Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ella Enchanted

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Short takes

Not recommended under 5; Parental guidance to 8 (Violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ella Enchanted
  • a review of Ella Enchanted completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 December 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children under 8 Due to the movie's low level of violence and scariness, children under the age of 8 might need some parental guidance.
Children over the age of 8 Should be ok to see this movie 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: Ella Enchanted
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the magical Kingdom of Frell, a new baby girl is born named Ella who is given the ‘gift’ of obedience from Fairy Godmother Lucinda. As she grows, Ella’s gift becomes more of a curse as she has to do everything anyone tells her to do including biting one of the girls at school. When Ella’s mother dies her father remarries an egocentric woman, Olga with two daughters, Hattie and Olive. Hattie is cunning and manipulative while Olive is dull and stupid. Hattie soon discovers Ella’s weakness which she preys on to her own advantage.

Ella grows into a young woman with an independent spirit and a social conscience. Her best friend Areeda is an ‘Aovian’ who as a group are disliked by the people of Frell. Ella protests against the King’s edict to segregate ogres, giants and elves and vehemently opposes their enslavement and having to work on King Edgar’s land. She is not overawed by Edgar’s nephew, Prince Charmont, as all the other girls in the Kingdom are, particularly Hattie who sees herself as future queen. When the day comes that Ella is forced to break her friendship with Areeda, she decides it’s time to seek out Lucinda to take back her gift.

On her travels she befriends Slannen, an elf who had been tied to a wheel and harassed by ogres. Ella tackles the ogres but they are too big for her. She is about to be lowered into a boiling cauldron when she is rescued by Prince Charmont (Char). As it turns out, Char is quite a nice person, completely unaware of his Uncle’s evil doings. Char is determined to repeal all elven restrictions and abolish slavery. Ella ends up falling in love with Char but they both have to overcome the Uncle’s wicked plot to kill Char and remain as King.

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 some violence in this movie, mostly set in a comic context such as the following scenes:

  • Ella is told to bite a girl’s finger, which she does.
  • A guard chases Ella, falls down stairs and knocks himself out.
  • Ella falls in a wine barrel.
  • Slannen is thrown through the air.

Some violence that isn’t comic includes:

  • Girls at school bully Areeda and she gets pushed over.
  • Ogres tie Slannen to a wheel and spin it around, making fun of him.
  • Ella comes to Slannen’s aid and fights the Ogres.
  • Ogres hang Ella from a tree and are about to lower her into a cauldron of boiling water.
  • Prince Charmont and his soldiers attack the Ogres
  • The giants are whipped by soldiers to make them work.
  • Ella is about to stab Char in the heart with a dagger but overcomes the spell.
  • A general fight occurs in the palace between the giants, ogres and elves and the King’s soldiers.

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.

The above violence could scare children in this age group. Also the following could disturb children in this group:

  • Ella’s mother becomes sick and dies.
  • Mandy, Ella’s mother’s friend, casts a spell on her boyfriend which traps him on the cover of a book.
  • Edgar has a talking python.
  • The ogres are very ugly and fierce looking.
  • The giants are huge.

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 scared or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

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 over the age of eight would realise that this movie is only fantasy and are unlikely to be scared.

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 in this age group are unlikely to be scared by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is drinking at a giant wedding. Lucinda drinks a bit too much alcohol.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The take home message is that strength of character can overcome all obstacles, including spells.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • opposition to discrimination
  • loyalty
  • friendship
  • tolerance
  • diversity

Parents could discuss with their children the use of violence as a way of solving conflict, and what the real life consequences can be of some actions and attitudes.

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