Australian Council on Children and the Media

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

movie image

Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 12 due to violence and scary scenes

Age
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • a review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 November 2002.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8 - 12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children 13 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: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Frightening fantasy scenes, Medium level violence
Length 161 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Harry returns for his second year of schooling at Hogwarts, the school for wizards. Shortly after the term begins Harry starts hearing a mysterious voice saying “kill….kill” which only he can hear. He then finds the caretaker’s cat Mrs Norris hanging upside down apparently dead. Fortunately she is not dead just ‘petrified’. There is a cure but it will not be available until the Herbology class finishes growing Mandrakes which have restorative properties. Later, two of the students are also found petrified. On each occasion Harry hears the voice again.

It becomes apparent that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened by the heir of Slytherin. Slytherin was one of the four founders of the school but left because he wanted to make Hogwarts only available to ‘pure’ wizards and witches not ‘mudbloods’. Before he left he created this Chamber in which lives some terrible evil. The teachers are fearful that they will have to close Hogwarts and send the students home.

Hermione is the next victim and Harry and Ron are left to solve the problem themselves. Harry overhears the teachers talking about a girl student who has been taken into the chamber and who happens to be Ron’s younger sister Ginny. Harry and Ron have to go and rescue her. They work out how to get into the Chamber and Harry finally comes face to face with the evil Basilisk, a monstrously large snake. Harry battles it out with the Basilisk and with the aid of Fawkes, Dumbledore’s pet phoenix and the Sorting Hat, Harry eventually wins. Ginny is saved and all turns out well.

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.

The supernatural

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 the film, including:

  • Dobby the house elf has to punish himself and repeatedly bangs his head on a cupboard and hits himself with a light.
  • When George Dursley is trying to prevent Harry from escaping he falls from a second story window on to the ground but is not badly injured
  • In a Quidditch game a ‘rogue bludger’ chases Harry all over the place, eventually hits him causing him to fall to the ground and break his arm
  • Snape and Lockhart, then Harry and Draco, have ‘wand duels’ causing injury to the victims
  • Huge hairy spiders attack Harry and Ron

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 many images and visual effects that children under five may find scary:

  • Dobby is a rather grotesque creature with very large ears, eyes and nose
  • At the Weasleys’ home their pet owl Errol flies into the glass instead of through the window
  • The Weasleys travel by Floo powder which requires standing in the fireplace and sprinkling it over you while speaking the word of the desired destination. Ron and Harry are both shown going up in flames
  • Harry arrives at Knockturn Alley a scary place full of skulls. A skeletal hand is on a table and Harry is looking at it when it suddenly grabs his arm
  • Knockturn Alley is full of scary looking characters who try to trap Harry
  • Lucius Malfoy is a very threatening man
  • Harry and Ron crash into the wall at Platform 11
  • Harry and Ron take the flying car to get to Hogwarts which is chased by the train and turns upside down throwing Harry out but he manages to hang on
  • The car fails when they arrive at Hogwarts and crash lands into the Whomping Willow tree
  • The Whomping Willow tree aggressively attacks the car smashing it up while Ron and Harry are still inside. The car manages to escape and throws Harry and Ron out.
  • Snape and Fitch are both very scary looking characters
  • In the Herbology class they have to re-pot the Mandrakes which look like plants but when they pull them out they are gross looking screaming baby creatures
  • There are two ghost characters, Nearly Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle
  • In Professor Lockhart’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class, he lets open a cage of Cornish Pixies which attack the children and cause havoc in the class
  • Ron casts a spell on Draco Malfoy to ‘eat slugs’ but it backfires on himself. Ron vomits out several slugs and disgusting creatures
  • Harry hears the voice saying ‘Kill….kill’ in a very sinister tone
  • Mysterious writing on the wall written in blood
  • Mrs Norris hanging upside down apparently dead
  • Lockhart casts a spell to mend the bone but instead removes all bones from Harry’s arm leaving it quite useless and able to move in all directions
  • Moaning Myrtle is quite eerie; she screams and dives into the toilet
  • Harry talking in ‘parsel tongue’ to the snake sounds really eerie and evil
  • Dumbledore’s pet phoenix Fawkes bursts into flames (This is apparently what happens to them when it is time to die, then a new one is born from the ashes)
  • Harry’s face is shown transforming into Goyle’s
  • Hermione’s face is transformed into a cat
  • Harry finds a diary which when he writes in it writes back to him in ghostly writing
  • Harry is sucked into the diary
  • Hermione is found petrified
  • Harry and Ron have to follow a swarm of spiders into the dark forest which leads them to Aragog a monster spider. She is Hagrid’s ‘pet’ but she allows her family to feast on Harry and Ron who are then attacked by thousands of giant hairy spiders.
  • The final scene with Harry and the Basilisk is particularly scary. This monstrous snake with huge fangs chases Harry and continually tries to attack him. Fawkes, the phoenix, comes to help Harry by pecking out the Basilisk’s eyes leaving red splodges. At one point the Basilisk erupts out of the water close to Harry. The Talking Hat gives Harry a sword with which he tries to defend himself, eventually piercing the Basilisk through its mouth killing it. The Basilisk dies a dramatic death but Harry is pierced by one of its huge teeth.
  • Harry still has to deal with Tom Riddle who is really Voldemort. Harry, who is dying from the Basilisk venom, repeatedly stabs at the diary with the Basilisk tooth. This creates blood all over the diary and at the same time causes Tom great pain and he then explodes.

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 goup are also likely to find many of the above-mentioned scenes disturbing

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 also find some of the above-mentioned scenes disturbing

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 in the film, but plenty of associated merchandise being marketed to children

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

The take home message from the movie is that good triumphs over evil; in this instance although the evil power is very strong, the good still wins through cooperation and collaboration.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • loyalty
  • courage
  • endurance

friendship

cooperation and collaboration

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

hating one’s enemies

disobeying rules

stereotyping fat people as bullies

Movie Review Search

Title:

Tip: Leave out the first A, An or The

Alphabetical:

Age suitability:

Selecting an age will provide a list of movies with content suitable for this age group. Children may also enjoy movies selected via a lower age.

Classifications:

classification img classification img classification img classification img

Date added:

About our colour guide

Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

Content is not age appropriate for children this age