Australian Council on Children and the Media

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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Not recommended for children under 14; Parental Guidance recommended for children aged 14; Suitable for 15+

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  • a review of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 May 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children aged under 14 Not recommended
Children aged 14 Parental Guidance recommended
Children aged 15+ Suitable 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: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy themes, violence and coarse language.
Length 126 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a retelling of the original myth by director Guy Ritchie. The film begins with King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) being overthrown by his treacherous and vindictive brother Vortigern (Jude Law). After ruthlessly sacrificing his wife for this cause, Vortigern makes moves to kill his young nephew Arthur, who would be the true heir to the throne. However, Arthur is saved and eventually raised by a group of prostitutes in a city brothel.

Two decades later, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has grown into a skilled street fighter whilst Vortigern has only become a more tyrannical leader. On learning about the powerful sword Excalibur being stuck firmly into a stone, Vortigern sends his guards to collect men from the village in an effort to pull it free. When Arthur is able to pull the sword free, Vortigern meets with him privately and reveals Arthur’s true lineage.

Before Vortigern is able to execute Arthur, a powerful mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and a group of Uther’s old followers appear, and rescue Arthur. They proceed to attempt to convince him to utilise Excalibur, and to take his rightful place on the throne whilst overthrowing Vortigern.

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.

Fantasy; love and family; good and evil; betrayal; action/adventure.

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 considerable violence and references to violence within the film, including:

  • There are many fight/battle sequences throughout the film, which involve a range of weapons being used: people are hanged, shot with bows/arrows, and swords and knives are used to stab or slash people’s throats, etc.
  • One character greedy for power, sacrifices the lives of two people he loves, although he does not kill them himself.
  • Environments and structures are destroyed by magic, with explosions and buildings falling to the ground in pieces.
  • People who protest against the King’s actions, both adults and children, are killed by guards.

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 magic presented within this film, and it is often used for destruction and evil. One particular mage has the ability to control a very large snake, and can direct it to eat and kill others.

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 could still be disturbed by the magical elements.

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.

  • Some children in this age group could still be disturbed by the magical elements.

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.

  • Nothing more of concern

Product placement

  • None of concern.

Sexual references

  • Arthur is brought up in a brothel. Although no sexual contact is actually depicted, it is implied that men enter the brothel and go into rooms with the female workers there for sex (leaving payment behind).

Nudity and sexual activity

There is limited sexual activity, including:

  • There are two moments where male and female characters share a farewell kiss.

Use of substances

  • Adult characters are seen to drink alcohol in social settings, such as during meals.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in the film, including:

  • ‘Fucking’, ‘shit’, ‘ass’, ‘piss’, and ‘bastard’.
  • Sexual language such as ‘tits’ and ‘bollocks’.

In a nutshell

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an inspiring story about pushing past one’s fears, conquering self-doubt and developing belief in oneself. Arthur begins the film with no understanding of his own personal lineage, although helping others was always something he greatly valued. On learning that he is heir to the throne, Arthur begins to take on-board greater responsibilities – despite the strong fears that he has of failure. The film explores grief and loss, the power of friendship, but most of all, the nature of social progress and betterment of a community. After taking the throne, Arthur begins to set in place changes that affect Camelot and its people in vastly positive ways.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of teamwork, and having the support of others around when attempting to overcome obstacles.
  • The belief that each person can contribute to a greater goal.
  • The concept that individuals can be flawed, but ultimately, can still be decent people when they strive to do good things.
  • The importance of allowing oneself to experience grief and loss, and to be true to one’s own feelings.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The shared nature of social responsibility, and the notion that it is crucial for all people to take an active interest in helping better society and to protect vulnerable populations.
  • Dynamics of power and authority, and explorations of when it might be valuable and worthwhile to break the rules.
  • Gender stereotypes, and the question of strength differentials between men and women.

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