Five Children and It

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Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 7 (scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Five Children and It
  • a review of Five Children and It completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to some scary scenes, including one with an angry dinosaur. Furthermore, the children are at times seen to be worried/ upset about their father's and It's welfare.
Children aged 6–7 Parental guidance recommended due to some scary scenes, including one with an angry dinosaur. Furthermore, the children are at times seen to be worried/ upset about their father's and It's welfare.
Children aged 8 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Five Children and It
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, Low level violence
Length: 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

During the summer of 1917, the five Butterworth children are evacuated from London to their Uncle Albert’s castle, after their parents sign up to serve in World War 1; their father (Alex Jennings) in the air force and their mother (Tara Fitzgerald) as a nurse. Cyril, the eldest, is put in charge of the toddler, Anthea, Jane and a none-too-pleased Robert (Freddie Highmore).

The children vary in their enthusiasm about the adventure that awaits them at eccentric Uncle Albert’s (Kenneth Branagh) home. They meet their unpleasant cousin, Horace (Alexander Pownall) and the kindly housekeeper, Martha (Zoe Wanamaker), who almost immediately warns them to stay away from the Greenhouse. Needless to say, it doesn’t take them long to find this room and explore the hidden pathway leading away from it.

To their surprise, they reach a beautiful sunny beach and stumble upon a large shell. The shell, it transpires, houses IT (voiced by Eddie Izzard), a sand fairy. The mischievous IT agrees to grant the children wishes, but they discover too late that there is a catch—they can only have one wish a day, wishes only last till sunset and they usually go horribly wrong. As the children struggle to make the right wishes, keep Horace and their uncle in the dark about IT and not fight with each other, the news arrives that their father is ‘missing in action’. They realise that they must use their wishes selflessly to help their father.

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 are very few overtly violent scenes in this movie. During one heated exchange between Cyril and Robert, Cyril angrily grabs Robert by the arms and calls him an idiot. He then angrily aims to push away Anthea, but she steps 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 some scenes that could disturb children under the age of eight:

  • the children being separated from their parents; Robert, in particular, finds the parting very difficult.
  • the children’s concern for their father’s safety is another theme which is revisited throughout the movie.
  • the children explore a dark and winding passageway leading from the forbidden Greenhouse. Jane comments on her apprehension; the scene is accompanied by eerie music.
  • after a wish in which the Butterworth’s gain wings, they get into a dangerous situation when they fly into the path of German zeppelins.
  • Horace has a laboratory for his ‘monster mastery’, where he appears to be conducting experiments, including boiling dolls. At one stage he menaces the other children with the same treatment.
  • Horace binds IT to his experiment table, holding a knife to him and threatening to perform a dissection.
  • Horace’s dinosaur egg cracks open and a grumpy full-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex appears in the laboratory. All the children appear afraid.

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 mentioned 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.

Some children aged eight to thirteen may still be scared by the above-mentioned scenes.

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 noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language in this movie, just one instance of name calling when Cyril calls Robert an ‘idiot’.

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is that of the power of family, particularly the importance of loyalty, selflessness and sticking together in tough times, and that everyone’s contribution is important.

Values that parents may wish to encourage include:

  • loyalty
  • working together for a common purpose
  • selflessness
  • caring for your family
  • trying to make friends with different types of people (Horace, IT)
  • equal gender roles

The following content 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 some actions and attitudes:

  • fighting, yelling, insulting and pushing between all the children
  • under-age driving
  • disobedience
  • lying