Australian Council on Children and the Media

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • a review of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 December 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 8 -13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 14 and over OK for this age group

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: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy violence, Some scenes may upset young children
Length 140 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The four Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skendar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are evacuated from London during the blitz in World War II and sent to stay with a mysterious professor in a large house in the country. One day the children are playing hide and seek when Lucy discovers a large wardrobe, a perfect place to hide! But when she enters it she finds herself in the frozen, beautiful land of Narnia. There she meets Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), a faun with a man’s face and horse’s feet, who befriends her and takes her back to his home for tea.

However Tumnus is supposed to kidnap Lucy and hand her over to the Wicked White Witch who has bewitched Narnia, leaving it in a state of perpetual winter for the past 100 years, turning many of its occupants to ice. The White Witch fears an old prophecy which states that four human children will come to the land and overturn her rule, thus has decreed that any human being must be captured. However Tumnus is too good to turn Lucy in, and helps her escape back to her family. There the other children don’t believe her tale, until the rest of the children also have to hide in the wardrobe one day, and discover Narnia for themselves.

They become reluctant heroes, taking on the mantle of the prophesied children, and meet Aslan, (voiced by Liam Neeson) the real lion King of Narnia. They join him and the other forces of good in the battle to save Narnia and overcome the White Witch.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; self sacrifice; ritual killing

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.

Although there is no blood or gore shown, there is a high level of fantasy violence in this movie, including the following:

  • The White Witch’s guard, a dwarf, jumps on Edmund and puts a knife to his throat.
  • Inside the Witch’s castle a wolf guard jumps on Edmund knocking him to the ground.
  • The dwarf leads Edmund to a dungeon with a knife, and chains his feet there.
  • Wolves are sent to find the other children and they break viciously into the Beavers’ home where they are hiding.
  • A jackal who tries to cover for the children is attacked by a wolf, picked up in its mouth and tossed to the ground, injured.
  • The Witch picks up Edmund by the throat and almost kills him with her sword.
  • The dwarf knocks Edmund back to the ground.
  • An evil looking guard is told to release Tumnus who is also held in chains. He does this by smashing the chains with a large hammer hurting his feet so he’s unable to walk. The Witch then turns Tumnus to ice.
  • One of the wolves attacks the beaver, biting its neck.
  • A wolf captures the jackal again and throws it at the Witch’s feet. She turns it to ice after interrogating it.
  • Edmund is gagged and tied to a tree.
  • A wolf attacks Susan and Peter defends her with a sword. The wolf then attacks Peter, killing itself on the sword.
  • The Witch strikes the dwarf with her sword for letting Edmund escape.
  • The Witch demands Edmund’s blood as a traitor, but Aslan gives his own life instead. He walks through a jeering crowd of evil creatures who strike him down, tie him up and shave him. They walk over his body and drag him to a large stone table where the Witch ritualistically kills him with her sword to the chanting of the crowd. This scene is particularly upsetting.
  • The final battle scene is very violent, including: creatures are stabbed and hacked with swords; birds drop large stones on the enemy, killing them; another bird sets the field on fire; Peter is shot by an arrow; Edmund is attacked by the Witch and almost killed by her sword; the dwarf is about to finish Edmund off, but Susan kills him with an arrow.

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are several scary and potentially upsetting scenes in this movie including the following:

  • The movie begins with the blitz over London, with fighter planes dropping bombs over the city. The Pevensie family is shown trying to reach a bomb shelter, and the children are all terrified and screaming, Edmund goes back to the house to get a picture of his father and is nearly killed by a bomb.
  • The children are all evacuated from London in an emotional scene showing them being separated from their mother and Peter given the responsibility of looking after all his siblings.
  • The large house and its caretaker Mrs McCready could both be quite scary for very young children.
  • The land of Narnia is a magical wonderland filled with half humans / half beasts, and all of the animals talk. The wicked creatures however are all very scary, evil looking beasts resembling the Orcs and goblins from Lord of the Rings.
  • Lucy sees creatures dancing in a fireplace and a lion roars out of the fire.
  • The Witch’s dwarf guard is a scary looking man with a mean, gnarled face.
  • The White Witch is a scary character, sometimes ice cold, then suddenly yelling and being very nasty.
  • The children cross a huge frozen lake. The lake starts to crack up and the children have to tread warily as they go. Then a huge wall of ice collapses on them and they almost drown, all just managing to survive on a small block of ice.
  • Aslan growls fiercely at the Witch.
  • Susan and Lucy cry over Aslan’s body.
  • The stone table that Aslan was killed on cracks in two and Aslan appears alive.
  • Edmund is badly injured in the last battle, fighting and gasping for breath before Lucy saves him with her magic potion.

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 are also likely to 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 may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

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 thirteen could still find some scenes upsetting, such as the realistic physical harm, the threats to the children and the death of Aslan.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

The movie’s message

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good versus evil battle in which good finally triumphs.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • endurance through adversity
  • courage
  • bravery
  • self-sacrifice
  • loyalty
  • selflessness
  • friendship
  • forgiveness

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children some aspects, such as:

  • violence as a way to solve conflict
  • the children are given weapons as presents from Father Christmas: Lucy a knife in a sheath, Susan a quiver of arrows and a bow, and Peter a sword.
  • Lucy befriends a stranger and goes back to his home; he has evil intent although it isn’t carried through.
  • Edmund’s betrayal of his family
  • the obvious religious parallels including the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Aslan.

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