Australian Council on Children and the Media

Artist, The

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Not suitable under 10, not recommended under 13; parental guidance recommended 13-14 (Disturbing scenes and themes, Substance abuse, Silent format difficult for young children to follow)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Artist, The
  • a review of Artist, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 February 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to disturbing scenes and themes, and substance abuse. The silent film format could also make the film difficult for this age group to follow.
Children 10-13 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes and substance abuse.
Children 14-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children 15 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: Artist, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

It’s 1927 and silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the top of his career when he is photographed a young woman, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) who subsequently gets a part as an extra in his next film. The pair find themselves immediately attracted to each other but George is married and the romance stays as wishful thinking.

 Peppy gains more and more film roles with her name slowly rising up the credits list until she becomes a star in her own right. Then in 1929, studio owner and film producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman) invites George to view a technological breakthrough in films, the “talkies”, which introduces a new era in film making. Unfortunately for George, the talkies end his career when he is fired by Al. “The public wants fresh meat” George is told, while at the same time the talkies raise Peppy’s career to new heights.

Dejected by the loss of his film career, George sinks into depression and destitution and by 1932 he hits rock bottom.  He almost kills himself when he sets fire to his home while in a state of drunken depression and then later attempts suicide. Luckily for George, however, he has a guardian angel in the form of Peppy, who has been keeping an eye on him during his downward spiral.

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.

Celebrity; depression; alcoholism

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.

The Artist contains occasional non-realistic action violence and accidental harm from the silent film era and scenes of more realist self-harm (no blood and gore is depicted). Examples include:

  • Scenes from 1920’s silent films feature a man shooting a rifle at a plane, men fighting with swords with one man stabbed through the stomach and a man sinking in quick sand until his outstretched arms finally disappear.
  • In a silent film, a man is strapped to a chair and tortured with electrodes placed on either side of his head. The unconscious man is then dragged away and placed in a prison cell.   
  • While in a depressed and drunken state, George trashes his living-room, sweeping rolls of films from shelving onto the floor and setting them on fire. The room fills with smoke and flames and George collapses with a smoke blackened face and hands. He is carried to safety by a policeman and we later see him unconscious in hospital with his hands bandaged.
  • Peppy Miller drives a car through city streets in an erratic manner, narrowly missing other cars and pedestrians. We see a title card with the word “Bang” written on it and see her damaged car after it has crashed into a tree. Peppy is uninjured.

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

  • George has a panic attack during which he hears exaggerated sounds. We see him covering his ears and silently screaming.  
  • After the fire at his house, George walks through the blackened and burnt remains of his living-room and has an emotional breakdown. He takes out a hand gun out of the box and places it in his mouth with his finger on the trigger. A distressed dog tugs on the cuffs of his pants in an attempt to stop him.
  • A woman shouts at a man then angrily throws a folded newspaper at a small dog.

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 may also be disturbed by 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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

 

Sexual references

The film contains one covert sexual reference.

  • In one scene Peppy Miller refers to two young men who are accompanying her as “toys”.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Artist contains occasional low-level sexual activity and mild sensuality. Examples include:

  • George eyes Peppy Miller’s legs which are seen from the thigh downwards while she is behind a screen.
  • Peppy wears revealing low-cut tops and a night gown
  • In a couple of scenes George and Peppy flirt with each other and stare into each other’s eyes and we see Peppy Miller giving George a light kiss on the cheek.

Use of substances

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

  • As expected in the 1920s, there is frequent smoking of cigarettes and cigars throughout the film. In a couple of scenes we see restaurants and picture theatres full of cigarette smoke.
  • Throughout the film and at various times of the day and night we see George drinking scotch from a glass. As George becomes more depressed his drinking increases. In one scene we see George with an empty glass and an empty scotch bottle. He takes the empty bottle to the kitchen and places it in a crate that is full of empty scotch bottles. He then pawns a dinner suit to get money to buy alcohol.
  • In one scene George drinks to excess in a bar to the point that he begins to hallucinate and see a miniature version of himself, with whom he has a conversation before passing out and being carried home to bed.
  • While in a drunken stupor, George goes on a rampage trashing his living room and then setting fire to a pile of films which he has emptied onto the living room floor.

Coarse language

Infrequent low-level coarse language and name calling including:

  • title cards with the words “damn”, “stupid”, and “loser”
  • an obscene finger gesture

In a nutshell

The Artist rated (PG), a black and white silent film, is an inspiring story of fame, fortune, friendship and loyalty. The film is targeted at older adolescents and adults, particularly those who have a passion for movies, film making and silent films. The film requires the viewer’s full attention as it relies on facial gestures and body language to tell the story. Younger adolescents and children may find the degree of attention required for this film demanding, and it does contain some dark themes and a couple of tense and disturbing scenes.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • As we get older, we are in danger of becoming outdated by technological advancements, which in turn challenge our careers and possibly our purpose in life.
  • Excessive pride can be the biggest danger in preventing us from overcoming change and obstacles.

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

  • Friendship and loyalty: throughout the film both Peppy and Clifton, George’s chauffer/butler looked out Georges best interests.

Parents may also wish to discuss how pride was George’s greatest enemy nearly resulting in his ruin.

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