image for Ablaze

Short takes

Not suitable under 11; parental guidance to 14 (themes, violence, disturbing images)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ablaze
  • a review of Ablaze completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 June 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not suitable due to themes, violence and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 11–14 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, violence and disturbing scenes.
Children over the age of 14 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Ablaze
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Themes of racial discrimination
Length: 81 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Morgan and Tiriki Onus, grandchildren of the acclaimed first Aboriginal film maker, Bill Onus, stumble across an old suitcase hidden in an attic. Inside they find numerous mysterious photos belonging to their grandfather and set off to find out what they mean. Their search leads them to the National Film Archives in Canberra where they find an unmarked, uncatalogued film that their grandfather made. Subsequently, the two set off on a journey to the Mission where their grandfather was born in search of answers and they end up learning, from first-hand interviews and historical recounts, that their grandfather was much more than the first Aboriginal filmmaker. He was a revolutionary, determined to use his talent with theatre and his skills with the camera to highlight the injustices endured by all Aboriginals and to bring about changes that would see them empowered and, after 200 years, recognised as people.


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 discrimination; Discriminatory stereotypes; Loss of culture; Animal cruelty; Government corruption.

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:

  • A boxing match is shown where an Aboriginal boxer knocks a white man out. It is noted that it is only acceptable in the ring and that in any other circumstance the Aboriginal man would have been arrested.
  • There is a description of the arrest of an Aboriginal man who was bashed into every pole by police as he was escorted to prison. It was also recounted how Aboriginal people would die in police custody due directly to the brutality of the officers.
  • An Aboriginal war veteran was arrested, jailed and fined a large sum of money for fighting with the white theatre owner who refused to sell him a ticket for the seat he wanted.
  • Numerous, gross human rights abuses are depicted: starving Aboriginal communities; hungry children in utter poverty plagued by bed bugs; men, women and children chained together and used as cheap labour or as outright slaves, etc.
  • Two men wrestle a cow to the ground. Another man whips at the cows.
  • After a community walks off the land due to the terrible treatment they had been forced to endure, police arrive and arrest some of the men at gun point. The men are chained together and taken away.
  • Images are shown of possums and foxes hanging upside down shortly after being killed.
  • White people are allowed to wear furs as fashion but the longstanding traditions of the Aboriginal communities, to wrap their babies in possum skin cloaks (adding to the cloaks throughout their lives), are prohibited.
  • Images are shown of Aboriginal communities suffering the after-effects of radiation poisoning due to atomic testing on their lands.
  • Bill is badly injured in a car crash with a fire truck.
  • The general lack of compassion toward the Aboriginal community, depicted throughout the film, is, in itself, a sustained act of violence.

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:

  • The following scenes and images may scare or disturb children in 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.

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:

  • The film clips showing miserable, starving, Aboriginal children, who are living in slums and otherwise appalling poverty, may be upsetting to some children.
  • There is a recount about how Bill and his siblings had to leave the Mission immediately as his mother had learned that one of the police officers had been ordered to take her children away. There are other references to The Stolen Generation as well as recounts of much needed rations being stripped from children who forgot not to speak in their language.

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:

  • The heartbreaking photos of children suffering the effects of radiation poisoning, with swollen stomachs, painful looking rashes and numerous flies stuck to their eyes are deeply distressing and could be scary for some young viewers.

Thirteen and overinfo

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 further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • An Apple laptop was used and its logo clearly displayed on various occasions.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There is one reference to women and girls being exploited.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • An Aboriginal baby is shown naked, about to have a bath.
  • Some Aboriginal men are shown naked from behind.
  • There are photos of Aboriginal men wearing nothing but loin cloths and chains.
  • There is a scene in Bill’s film that is replayed numerous times which shows he and a bunch of youth wearing body paint on their chests, faces and legs along with something similar to underwear.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bastard.

In a nutshell

Ablaze is an eye opening documentary that depicts the struggles of an extraordinary man who never gave up fighting for the rights of his people. The past and present are woven seamlessly together through the use of interviews, photos, present-day footage and long-lost film clips to tell about a very dark time in Australia’s past and about the men and women who fought for justice and equal rights and refused to let go.

The main messages from this movie are to follow your dreams and to fight for what you know to be right; to ground yourself and to know your culture; to walk tall; and to be proud of your achievements wherever life may lead you.

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

  • Compassion
  • Determination
  • Courage
  • Ingenuity
  • Creativity.

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

  • Believing that one race is better than another and using those you see as beneath you as slaves.
  • Purposefully killing a culture by any and every means possible.
  • Using violence and discrimination as a way to oppress a whole community.
  • Killing animals for fashion and outlawing traditional practices.
  • The ramifications of those in power using their influence to sabotage others.