Australian Council on Children and the Media

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Not recommended under 12, parental guidance 12-13, due to war/adult themes and disturbing scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • a review of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 April 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to themes and disturbing scenes
Children aged 12 -13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and disturbing scenes
Viewers 14 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: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In 1941, the island of Guernsey is under German occupation. The residents are living under severe deprivation as the soldiers take all their animals and food supplies, leaving them with very little. One night Amelia Maugery (Penelope Wilton) hosts a group of friends for a secret dinner. On the way home they are stopped by German soldiers for being out after curfew and, on the spot, Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay) invents the ‘Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ as their reason for being out. Thus begins their reading group and they continue to meet on a regular basis.

After the war, one of the group members, Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), sends a letter to an English author named Juliet Ashton (Lily James) asking for her help in obtaining a particular book. Dawsey and Juliet become good pen pals and she becomes increasingly intrigued by life on the island. She decides to write an article about Guernsey during the war for the Times and sets off to research the topic, leaving her new fiancé Mark (Glen Powell) back in England.

Juliet is unprepared for the stories of heroism and loss of life that she hears, and that deeply move her. She becomes quite enmeshed in the lives of the Guernsey residents and in particular, Dawsey and Kit (Florence Keen), Elizabeth’s young daughter who was left behind when her mother was arrested and sent to Germany.

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; loss of, and separation from, parents; loss of children

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:

  • German soldiers viciously beat and kick slave workers
  • Germans soldiers march through the streets of Guernsey and Elizabeth is almost arrested for yelling abuse at them.
  • Dawsey gets into a fight with an informer in a pub. The informer breaks a glass and tries to attack Dawsey with it, but is stopped by others in the pub.

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:

  • While the friends are returning home they are suddenly stopped by the German soldiers – a bright light flashes in their eyes and they are interrogated.
  • In a flashback, Juliet remembers walking into her apartment and finding it completely destroyed by a bomb. She steps into the room, which collapses beneath her, but she is saved by her friend and publisher, Sidney.
  • Soldiers threaten Dawsey and take away all of his pigs.

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:

  • Juliet talks about losing both of her parents.
  • The children of Guernsey were evacuated to England before the Germans arrived. The scene of them leaving their parents with much sadness and tears and being led onto a ship is quite upsetting.

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:

  • Slave workers were used by the Germans to build constructions. A scene shows them being beaten with truncheons and kicked. Men are seen with bloodied faces. It is said that many of them starved and died.
  • A war hospital is shown with wounded men in beds covered in blood. Amelia’s daughter Jane is rushed to the hospital in childbirth, brought on by the invasion, but both she and the baby die. She is shown with a blood-covered sheet over her.
  • Christian, a German soldier and a doctor, helps with the delivery of a calf that is in difficulty. He and Dawsey pull the calf from its mother with ropes attached to its feet. The mother cow is seen in distress.

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.

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A very strait-laced woman talks about the lack of morals shown by the girls when the soldiers were there. She calls them sluts and says they were ready to ‘drop their knickers’ for some lipstick or perfume.
  • Elizabeth has an affair with a German soldier called Christian, which results in the birth of Kit.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Juliet and Mark kiss on several occasions.
  • Juliet and Dawsey kiss passionately.

Use of substances

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

  • There is quite a lot of drinking at various venues: in bars, clubs, parties, at home, etc.
  • The elderly post office worker, Eben, drinks too much homemade gin and vomits over a German soldier’s boots.
  • Some characters smoke

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including infrequent use of the following words:

  • bloody
  • bastards
  • Oh my God

In a nutshell

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a romantic drama set in the beautiful location of Guernsey. Although it was a dreadful period in history, the story is told with great compassion and celebrates the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice which were evident during the German occupation. Due to its themes, and some disturbing scenes, the film is most suited to older adolescents and adults and is therefore not recommended for children under 12, with parental guidance recommended for 12 and 13 year olds.

The main messages from this movie are to care for other human beings, even if that places your own life in jeopardy, and that courage and humanity can rise above evil.

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

  • self-sacrifice
  • the importance of family and friends
  • respect
  • tolerance

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