Australian Council on Children and the Media

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Not suitable under 8, not recommended 8-12, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • a review of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 May 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 8-12 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 12-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes

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: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based on a video game, this film tells the story of a young street orphan, Dastan (played as an adult by Jake Gyllenhaal) adopted by the Persian King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), who admires the boy’s strength and courage. Dastan is raised alongside the king’s sons, his heir Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsiv (Toby Kebbell).

As adults, Dastan, Tus and Garsiv invade the holy city of Alamut, whose inhabitants according to the King’s brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley) have been manufacturing and smuggling weapons (swords and spears) to Persia’s enemies. During the invasion, Dastan manages to take possession of an ancient jewelled dagger “The Dagger of Time”. This is a magical dagger which, if misused, is capable of releasing “The Sands of Time”, a gift from the gods capable of changing history or destroying the world.

With the sacking of Alamut complete, the three brothers confront Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), Alamut’s ruler and the rightful guardian of the Dagger of Time and Tus announces his intention to marry her. However, due to treachery and treason, King Sharaman is killed by a poisoned coat given to him by Dastan. Dastan is immediately accused of the King’s murder and forced to escape with the Princess, who hopes to retrieve the Dagger.

The pair escape into the desert and before long are captured by Sheik Amar (Alfred Molinar) and his band of followers. The Sheik and his small band eventually decide to help Dastan and the princess to hide the dagger but they are attacked by a secret order of assassins, the Hassansin who steal the dagger and Dastan’s real struggle to prove his innocence and save the kingdom begins

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.

Being an orphan and adoption; invasions, time travel, sorcery, treason and betrayal

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.

Prince of Persia contains intense sequences of violence and action throughout, but with an unrealistic lack of blood and gore, no extremely gruesome images and as much acrobatic footwork in fights as blows struck. Examples include:

  • A soldier slaps a young boy several times across the face.
  • While chasing a young boy a soldier falls through a roof and another fall off a roof.
  • Two soldiers hold a young boy down with his arm over a chopping block. A third soldier raises his sword in the air to chop off the boy’s hand but is stopped by the king. 
  • Dastan engages in a fist fight with another man with punches to the stomach and face and knees to the head.
  • When Dastan and his soldiers storm the city of Alamut, we see a man bash another man’s head against a stone wall, numerous men shot in the chest and back with arrows, men kicked in the head, a man thrown over a balcony, a man’s back crushed by a giant wooden wheel and oil set on fire and poured from a castle wall over men below. Horses run down soldiers and numerous soldiers are stabbed and slashed by swords. A man kicked under his chin with enough force to send him flying through the air to land unconscious on his back.
  • When a poisoned robe is wrapped around the King smoke begins to rise off the robe and he cries out in pain and fear. His hands and face are blackened and burnt and people who touch the King’s robe scream out in pain as they are also burnt. The King falls to the ground with a black and burnt face and robe we hear that he is dead.
  • Princess Tamina attacks Dastan with a sword, slashing at him several times before lashing him across the chest, leaving a thin, slightly bloodied, slash.
  • Princess Tamina lies on the ground apparently unconscious, but when Dastan approaches her she attacks him, knocking him unconscious by bashing him over the head with a human skeleton thigh bone.
  • Dastan uses two swords to fight off one of his brothers and several guards. He slashes guards with his swords, also kicking and punching them in the head. A man is shot in the chest with a crossbow bolt and another runs head first into a wall. Dastan uses a rope to pull several guards off a rooftop.
  • During a fight between Dastan and one of his brothers, Dastan is punched in the stomach and kicks his brother in the chest.
  • During a fight between Dastan and the Hassansins, a Hassansin wields a whip made of chains with dagger like blades which narrowly miss Dastan.      
  • A Hassansin throws multiple stiletto blades at a man and several blades are embedded in the man’s chest; we see small wounds and a small amount of blood with the man collapsing dead on the floor.
  • A man has a flying dagger embedded in his head.
  • Dastan holds a sword to his brother’s throat and then in an attempt to convince his brother of his innocence, he plunges the Dagger of Time into his own chest.
  • Nizam pushes Tamina into an abyss and she falls to her death as Dastan watches.
  • Dastan kills his uncle by stabbing in the chest with a sword.

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 a number of scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Images of human skeletons skewered /impaled on wooded pikes.
  • The Hassansin Leader has a scar disfiguring his face and strange alien-looking eyes.
  • Several scenes of large aggressive snakes capable of burrowing under the sand and leaping high into the air to attack their victims. One scene shows a close-up image of a snake with its jaws opened wide and fangs inches away from Dastan’s face. Dastan cuts the snake’s head off and throws it in Sheik Amar’s lap. In one scene, a snake slithers up a man’s arm and then vanishes. We also see a snake bite a man on his face.
  • A Hassansin dressed in black sits on a black horse which is fitted with spiked armour.     
  • When the Sands of Time are released from the giant crystal hour glass containing  we see apocalyptic style images of a giant sand storm consuming a city and see ghost like images of faces swirling around in the sand. 

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent and disturbing scenes, children in this age group may be also disturbed by the story of a young girl sacrificing herself to the gods in order to save humanity.  

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.

Younger children in this age group may also by disturbed by some of the above-mentioned violence and disturbing scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • On a number of occasions reference is made to one of the Princes having more than one wife.
  • In one scene, Princes Tamina catches Dastan looking down the top of her dress and asks, “Found what you are looking for Prince?”
  • Tamina tells Dastan “There must be some reason you can’t take your eyes off me. I’m not some desperate slave girl”.
  • Tamina tells Dastan that if he wants the dagger he will have to search her for it.   

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Dastan and Tamina kiss each other on the lips

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In several scenes people drink wine from goblets.
  • The King drinks wine from a goblet and behaves as if mildly intoxicated.
  • A reference is made to a man not being permitted to drink fermented goats milk before a certain time of day.
  • Dastan falls through a ceiling to land in the middle of a group of woman drinking wine from goblets.

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, based upon a video game, is a fantasy action adventure. Although the film has an (M) rating for violence, it is likely to appeal to young boys.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • No matter how poor or disadvantaged, all people are capable of great achievements by making the right choices.
  • You should listen to advice, but also trust what your heart is telling you.
  • A family can be a person’s greatest strength and support.

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

  • Willingness to listen and see reason: Even though both brothers were distraught about the death of their father and believed Dastan to be responsible, they were still able to objectively listen to Dastan and accept his explanation of his innocence
  • Honesty and selflessness: The qualities that bought Dastan to the King’s attention were his willingness to stand up and defend his friends regardless of threats to his personal safety.  

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

  • the Persian justification for invading the city of Alamut, which has parallels in the current situation in Iraq.

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