Australian Council on Children and the Media

Brother Bear

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 8 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Brother Bear
  • a review of Brother Bear completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 December 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the level of violence and scary material, children under the age of 8 would need parental guidance to see this movie.
Children aged 8-10 Children aged 8-10 might still need some parental guidance to see this movie.
Children over the age of 10 Children over 10 should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Brother Bear
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 81 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kenai is a young, impulsive, adventurous Inuit boy who lives with his two older brothers Sitka and Denahi. Sitka, the oldest, has the token of an eagle - a brave guide, while Denahi’s token is the wise wolf. An initiation ceremony is held for boys growing into manhood and Kenai is given the token of love with the symbol of a bear. Kenai despises his token and while he is angry fails to secure the basket load of fish properly which is then carried off by a large grizzly bear. Kenai’s brothers try to dissuade him from chasing after the bear but Kenai is determined to hunt her down and retrieve the basket. The brothers arrive in time to save Kenai from the bear but Sitka and the bear fall through a crack in the ice and Sitka dies. He returns to the sky as an eagle.

Kenai now hates the bear for killing Sitka. Denahi tries to explain that it wasn’t really the bear’s fault but Kenai’s for chasing her. Kenai again hunts the bear and attacks it with a spear and this time the bear dies. Kenai watches as the spirit of the bear goes up into the sky and then he sees Sitka as the eagle come down and pick him up. Kenai is returned to the earth as a bear so that he can learn to see things from a different perspective.

Kenai now has to live his life as a bear until he has learnt his lesson and he must return to the place where the lights touch the earth. On his way he meets a little bear cub called Koda who adopts him as his brother. Koda shows him the path he has to take which is near the place Koda has to return for the annual bear run. Kenai at first wants nothing to do with Koda but along the way the two become firm friends and Kenai discovers a terrible truth that he has to deal with.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is quite a bit of violence in this movie including the following:

  • Kenai and Denahi have quite a few brotherly fights
  • Denahi spits on Kenai
  • The shaman hits Kenai across the head for wanting to trade his token
  • Sitka hits Kenai for being insolent
  • Kenai throws rocks at the bear
  • The bear stands on her back feet and roars ferociously
  • The bear throws Kenai over the cliff
  • Sitka fights the bear off with a spear
  • The bear chases Kenai
  • Sitka and the bear fall through the ice into the water, killing Sitka
  • The bear appears suddenly behind Kenai growling and sniffing at him
  • Kenai and the bear fight, ending with the bear falling dead on top of Kenai
  • Kenai as a bear, falls off a cliff into the water but survives
  • Kenai gets caught in a bear trap and hangs upside down
  • Koda hits Kenai with a stick trying to free him from trap
  • Denahi attacks Kenai with a spear and a dagger not knowing it’s him
  • Denahi and Kenai fight and they both fall off a cliff edge – Denahi is about to kill Kenai when Sitka intervenes

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is quite a lot in this movie that would scare children in this age group. As well as the violent scenes mentioned above, children under five may need guidance with the following scenes:

  • Kenai is chased by stampeding caribou
  • Sitka being changed into an eagle
  • Spirits gather around Kenai after the bear dies
  • The vision in the lights of animals’ spirits
  • The dead bear seems to dissolve and then floats up into the lights
  • Kenai being carried up into the lights by the eagle (Sitka) and returning as a bear
  • Koda being orphaned
  • Kenai is changed back into a boy and then back into a bear
  • Sitka momentarily changes back from the eagle to himself and then back again
  • Koda’s mother momentarily comes back to visit him

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group could still be upset by the violence to the bear and the scariness of the bear defending herself and her cub. They could also be disturbed by the Indian spiritual beliefs and might need some guidance here.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over the age of 13 should be fine with the content of this movie.

Sexual references

There are no sexual references except for the fact that two rams are butting each other to gain the attention of a female sheep.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity.

Use of substances

There is no use of substances.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language.

In a nutshell

The main take home message from this movie is that one should always try to see things from another’s perspective. Another message is that wild animals will often use violence to protect themselves when provoked and it’s preferable to avoid that.

Values that parents may wish to encourage include:

  • love and friendship
  • the importance of family and belonging
  • not to act rashly
  • respecting others including wild life
  • taking responsibility for one’s actions
  • forgiveness
  • tolerance.

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • impetuous behaviour
  • sibling rivalry
  • hatred and revenge.

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