Australian Council on Children and the Media

Viceroy’s House

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Short takes

Not recommended under 12; PG to 14 (Distressing scenes, lack of interest)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Viceroy’s House
  • a review of Viceroy’s House completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 May 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommeded
Children aged 12 - 14 Parental Guidance recommended
Children 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: Viceroy’s House
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Themes and mild language
Length 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Viceroy’s House is based on the true story of the transition to independence for India in 1947. Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) is tasked with the role of overseeing this monumental event and is sent as the last Viceroy to India. He’s accompanied by his wife Lady Edwina Mountbatten (Gillian Anderson) and daughter Pamela (Lily Travers). The British have ruled India for 300 years and during that time India has been integrated into one large country. There is still, however, much division amongst the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Jawaharlal Nehru (Tanveer Ghani), leader of the Congress Party, is determined that India should remain as one country but Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Denzil Smith), a Muslim leader, wants a separate country for his people.

Mountbatten comes to the conclusion that partitioning the country is the only solution. However, what he doesn’t know is that this very plan had already been drawn up by Churchill and the previous Viceroy. Riots break out across the country both before and after partition. India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan, create the largest mass migration in history with 14 million people displaced and 1 million deaths. What should have been a victory for India is turned into a tragedy in which India is torn apart by religious sectarianism.

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.

Civil uprisings; India and Pakistan; Religious sectarianism.

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:

  • There is much civil unrest which is shown both in real-time and film footage, with riots on the streets, buildings on fire, police and soldiers beating people,
  • The Viceroy’s staff is divided amongst itself between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. There are several altercations, which at times turn into physical violence.
  • There is talk of massacres in Punjab.
  • A Muslim staff member of the Viceroy stands up to the Chief of Staff and is attacked by one of the guards.
  • Lord Mountbatten’s personal staff member, a Hindu man called Jeet, threatens Mountbatten with a knife and yells at him. He eventually drops the knife and runs away.

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 are scenes of dead bodies in the streets, some covered in sheets, some being carted away. Some of the dead are children and babies.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group would still be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes and seeing men crying at the sight of it.
  • Jeet finds his friend in a line of refugees fleeing their village. He is carrying a child that isn’t his and tells him that all their families have been killed, including his own wife and children. The child was the only one left alive.
  • The refugees fleeing from their villages with all their goods are a sad sight – a bare baby is seen on horseback, many babies crying, people begging for food. They are placed into a tent city.
  • Many people are seen wounded with bloody bandages.

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 scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Alia, a Muslim girl who is in love with Jeet, (both employees of the Viceroy) is forbidden to be in a relationship with a Hindu and has been promised to a Muslim man. During one of the riots she comes home to find her house is burning and her blind, elderly father is missing. She does eventually find him being cared for by a neighbour.
  • A train to Pakistan that Alia was on is attacked and most of the people killed. We learn later that Alia survived but Jeet believes she is dead and he is distraught.
  • Alia is seen covered in bruises and being carried on a stretcher.

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

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity and very little sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Jeet and Alia kiss

Use of substances

  • None of concern

Coarse language

There is very little coarse language in this movie, including:

  • One use of the word bloody.

In a nutshell

Viceroy’s House is an historical drama documenting the largest mass migration in history. It is a tragedy that India’s independence came at such a high cost of lives. The movie tells the story well with a romantic love interest woven through, which emphasises the heartbreak of separation. The colour of India is beautifully shown against a backdrop of great despair. The violent content is shown in brief snippets and is not too overwhelming; therefore it is suitable, with parental guidance, for children 12 and over.

The main messages from this movie are that dividing people along religious lines is always going to cause problems and that love can overcome many barriers.

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

  • Creating divisions amongst people stirs up deep-seated hatred and animosity.

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