Australian Council on Children and the Media

Finding Neverland

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 8s (distressing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Finding Neverland
  • a review of Finding Neverland completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 January 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to some distressing scenes, younger children might need parental guidance to view this movie.
Children over the age of 8 Should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

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: Finding Neverland
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In London, 1903, James Barrie is an aspiring playwright, however his new play ‘fails to impress’. His wife Mary is no comfort to him, so he finds solace in taking his St. Bernard dog for a run in the park. It is there that he meets the Llewellyn Davies boys, George, Jack, Peter and Michael who introduce him to their recently widowed mother Sylvia. James really enjoys the company of the young boys but he also enjoys Sylvia’s company and the two become great friends. James becomes a welcome member of the family and plays imaginary games with the boys, but Peter refuses to use his imagination, and seems to have suffered the most from his father’s death. This became a challenge to James and is the reason he starts to write the story of Peter Pan.

The relationship between James and Sylvia causes some problems, however, as James is still a married man and Sylvia’s mother, who is financially supporting her, tries unsuccessfully to bring it to an end. Gossip is rife in the community and questions are also raised about the relationship between James and the boys. James refuses to acknowledge the gossip and continues the relationship while writing his new book. However tragedy again strikes this unfortunate family as Sylvia becomes ill with a serious chest illness. Nevertheless the play, Peter Pan is a great success at the theatre and its legacy remains today.

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 a little violence in this movie. Imaginary violence includes the boys play fighting as Indians and pretending to shoot guns and James pretending to be Captain Hook, prodding at the boys with his hook.

Other violence that is not imaginary includes:

  • The boys argue and have a real fist fight
  • Peter is very upset when his mother gets sick and smashes a lot of things in the house
  • George falls from a rope which is suspended to make him fly and breaks his arm.

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 is some material in this movie that could scare children in this age group:

  • James appears menacing as Captain Hook with a scar face, eye patch and wielding a sword.
  • In James’s imagination the boys fly out of their bedroom window.
  • In their imaginary pirate game, a shark comes out of the water snapping its jaws.
  • Sylvia is very sick and has a bad coughing fit. She eventually walks off into ‘Neverland’ which is symbolic of her dying. A funeral is held for her.
  • Neverland is produced as a theatre set and some of the creatures are a bit scary looking.
  • Fairy Tinkerbell’s light goes out which means she’s dying.

 

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 scared or disturbed by the scenes described above.

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 are unlikely to be scared by this movie but they could be upset by the fact that the four boys are left without either parent.

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 are unlikely to be scared by this movie.

Sexual references

There is a reference to the concerns about James’ relationship with the boys.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is mild substance use:

  • Mary Barrie drinks wine at home.
  • The producer smokes a cigar.

 

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

There is no particular message in this movie as it is mainly biographical.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • endurance through adversity
  • the role of imaginative play in children’s lives.

The issue of a married man having a relationship with another woman and society’s reactions to this, could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of such a situation.

 

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