Australian Council on Children and the Media

United Kingdom, A

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Not recommended under 13; PG to 15 (Themes; lack of interest for younger children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for United Kingdom, A
  • a review of United Kingdom, A completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 December 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes and lack of interest
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Viewers 15 and over OK for this 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: United Kingdom, A
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence and coarse language
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the late 1940’s, A United Kingdom is based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (David Oyelowo) who travelled to London to study law. While there, he met and fell in love with Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), the daughter of a shoe salesman. This caused a great upset on both sides, with Ruth’s father vowing to never see her again and Sereste’s uncle, the Prince Regent (Vusi Kanene), greatly angered by what he saw as a betrayal of his people.

Ruth travels to Bechuanaland with Sereste and is met with a hostile reception. The people love Sereste, however, and want him to continue to take his place as King.  Britain has Bechuanaland as a protectorate and, to appease the South African government, which is starting to introduce apartheid, the British government does everything in its power to prevent Sereste and Ruth becoming King and Queen of Bechuanaland.

Sereste is actually exiled for several years but is eventually allowed back into his country on the condition that he won’t be King. The Bamangwato people eventually accept Ruth, who integrates well into their society. Sereste goes on to make Bechuanaland an independent democratic country called Botswana, of which he becomes the first president.

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.

Racial prejudice; interracial marriage; colonialism; civil unrest

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 including:

  • Sereste enjoys boxing while in London and a match is shown with violent blows and head butts.
  • Ruth and Sereste are set upon by a group of thugs. Ruth gets a blood nose and Sereste is attacked, but as a boxer, he manages to fight back and the thugs run off.
  • When Sereste is exiled, fighting breaks out between UK soldiers and the local people.

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.

Apart from the violence described above, there is nothing particularly disturbing for this age group.

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.

Ruth is shown during childbirth and in great pain.

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 could also be scared by the scene showing Ruth in childbirth.
  • The prejudice shown towards Sereste and Ruth could be disturbing, particularly Ruth’s father wanting nothing to do with her. Sereste’s sister and aunt are also very unkind to Ruth when she first arrives in Bechuanaland.

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 of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

References to a relationship between a black man and a white woman being disgusting.

Nudity and sexual activity

Ruth and Sereste marry and are seen kissing, undressing each other and getting into bed together. They are seen naked from the shoulders up.

Use of substances

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

  • There is frequent drinking at various events, at home, in clubs etc.
  • Ruth is offered a drink at an officer’s house but Sereste is told he isn’t allowed to drink alcohol (in his own country).
  • Several characters smoke and Ruth’s father smokes a pipe.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh God; in God’s name
  • Name calling such as: coon; slut; bastard; whore; nigger

In a nutshell

A United Kingdom is a drama about the events of the marriage between a black prince and a white woman during the years when apartheid was being introduced in South Africa. There are some beautiful scenes from Botswana and it is an uplifting film in which justice finally prevails. Due to the film’s content younger viewers are likely to lose interest, and the film’s themes are more relevant to an older audience, so it is likely to appeal to teens and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that justice can prevail and that the colour of one’s skin should be of no importance.

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

  • racial equality
  • determination
  • loyalty
  • love and faithfulness

Parents may wish to discuss the reactions of Ruth’s and Sereste’s families to their marriage

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