Australian Council on Children and the Media

Darkest Hour

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Not recommended under 12, parental guidance recommended 12 to 14, due to themes, lack of interest and some scenes that might disturb children.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Darkest Hour
  • a review of Darkest Hour completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 January 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to themes, lack of interest and some scenes that might disturb children.
Children aged 12 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, possible lack of interest and scenes that may disturb children
Viewers aged 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: Darkest Hour
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 125 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in 1940, Darkest Hour tells the story of Winston Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) position as Prime Minister of Britain and head of the war cabinet during the early stages of WW11. Britain’s position was becoming increasingly weak under the leadership of Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) while the Germans were becoming increasingly more powerful. The opposition Labour Party refused to form a coalition with the Conservatives under Chamberlain and the only man they would accept was Churchill.

Churchill stood alone in wanting to fight the Nazis and was under great pressure from Chamberlain and Lord Halifax (Stephen Dilane) to enter into peace negotiations through  Mussolini. He had the support of his wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas), his extremely patient new secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) and, later on, King George V1 (Ben Mendelsohn).  The British people were also behind him. At the time Churchill took over, 300,000 of Britain’s forces were stationed in Dunkirk and their total elimination by the Germans was imminent. Churchill took the controversial tactic of sacrificing 4,000 men in an unwinnable attack in Calais as a diversion and managed to save most of the men in Dunkirk. This cemented Churchill’s position and he went on to lead Britain to a great victory over Hitler.

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.

World War 11; appeasement; deliberate sacrifice of human lives

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:

  • Churchill is a very intimidating character and is often seen yelling at people including Elizabeth Layton and Lord Halifax amongst others.
  • Some brief war scenes are shown such as bombs exploding and being dropped on Calais.

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.

The violent scenes described above are likely to scare 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.

Soldiers are seen in a field hospital injured and attached to drips. A dead soldier is shown in close up with his eye open and staring.

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 be disturbed by the situation of the men who were sacrificed in an unwinnable attack on Calais to create a diversion so that the Dunkirk evacuation could take place.

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.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the sacrifice of men as described above

Product placement

None

Sexual references

There is mention of the fact that Churchill’s father ‘lost his mind to syphilis’.

Nudity and sexual activity

No nudity as such but Churchill does warn Elizabeth that he is coming out of the bath naked and she runs and hides – only his legs are shown.

Use of substances

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

  • Churchill drinks continuously – from morning to night; spirits, champagne, etc with little apparent repercussion.
  • Churchill also smokes cigars constantly.
  • Other characters also drink at home and at various events.
  • Smoking is quite common including by the King.
  • Chamberlain is seen taking morphine sulphate.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • ‘bugger’ and ‘buggering it up’.
  • bloody
  • for Heaven’s sake
  • up your bum
  • shit
  • damn
  • Churchill calls his secretary a 'nincompoop'

In a nutshell

Darkest Hour is a political drama about the time when Churchill took over office during World War 11. It portrays Churchill as a man of great courage and oratory skill, while also wrestling with some inner doubts. The movie focuses on the man and the political manoeuvrings that went on at the time and there is little action shown. For this reason, the fact that it is about the war, and its length of 125 minutes, the film will appeal more to adolescents and adults than younger children who are likely to lose interest. There are also some scenes that might scare young children.

The main messages from this movie are to stand up for what you believe in against all odds and to fight a perceived evil at all costs.

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

  • courage
  • determination
  • steadfastness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children what might have been the outcome if Britain had gone down the path of making peace with Hitler.

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