Australian Council on Children and the Media

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Not recommended under 11, PG to 15 (Themes, Violence, Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • a review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 November 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not recommended due to dark themes, violence and scary scenes
Children 11-14 Parental guidance recommended due to its dark themes, violence and scary scenes and particularly, the death of a main character
Children 15 and over OK for this age group but many older adolescents will benefit from discussions with their parents around the uncertain outcomes of some actions and that battles between good and evil may not have clear cut or desirable outcomes.

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 Goblet of Fire
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate dark themes, Moderate fantasy violence
Length 157 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) receives an invitation from his friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) to attend the Quidditch World Cup which is being contested by Ireland and Bulgaria. The match ends in chaos when dark wizards appear, destroying everything in sight and placing the ‘dark mark’ of Voldemort, a huge skull, high up in the sky. Ron, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Harry are still trying to unravel the events when they return to school for the start of the new year.

When they return to Hogwarts, they are greeted with the news that the school is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, an event which hasn’t taken place in over a hundred years. The Tournament is a challenging and dangerous event, traditionally contested by three students, one representing each of the world’s wizarding schools, Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The three students are chosen by the Goblet of Fire which spits out their names, with Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) chosen to represent Hogwarts. However on this occasion the Goblet of Fire chooses an additional fourth contestant—Harry Potter. Harry has to compete against students much older than himself, fighting fire breathing dragons, rescuing his friends from the bottom of the Black Lake and finding his way through a maze which is intent on strangling all contestants.

Unbeknownst to him, as he defeats each obstacle he falls further into the trap set by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) who plans to capture him and use his blood to be reborn in human form.

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 are several violent scenes in this movie mostly performed by magic, including the following:

  • A caretaker is struck down by a flash of light
  • Harry’s first task in the Triwizard Tournament is to collect a golden egg which is being protected by a dragon. The scene between Harry and the dragon is very well done, but quite violent. The dragon repeatedly attacks Harry and breathes fire on him. Harry ends up with blood on his face and quite bruised.
  • Harry is attacked by strange and vicious underwater creatures.
  • Diggory, the other Hogwarts’ champion, is killed by Voldemort supporter, Wormtail (Timothy Spall)
  • Wormtail cuts off his own hand to put into a cauldron with the shrivelled baby like Voldemort. He then cuts Harry’s arm with a long knife and puts the blood into the cauldron.
  • Voldemort presses on Harry’s scar making him scream and writhe in pain.
  • Voldemort and Harry duel with their wands.

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 many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • In a dream Harry sees a huge snake crawl through a graveyard with skulls and ghouls, into an old creaky house and up some stairs. The snake talks to some men, while eerie music plays.
  • A caretaker walks through the old house with his flashlight but is discovered by the men and disposed of in a flash of light.
  • Harry and his friends are flung spinning through the air by a ‘portkey’ and crash land on hard ground.
  • Dark wizards come into the camp at the World Cup, destroying the tent city and putting the ‘dark mark’ of Voldemort, a skull, into the sky. In the chaos, Harry is trampled on.
  • Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) is very scary looking. He has an artificial eye which follows people around, a badly scarred face and an artificial leg which he removes.
  • Moody makes a spider grow very large and crawl over the students in the classroom.
  • Moody transforms Malfoy (Tom Felton) into a ferret.
  • Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) appears to Harry as a face in the fire.
  • The fire-breathing dragons are huge and fierce.
  • Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) is a ghost who appears to Harry while he’s taking a bath.
  • Harry has to swim to the bottom of Black Lake which is full of nasty creatures which attack him. He grows gills and has webbed feet and hands.
  • The other competitors while swimming in the Black Lake develop fish like faces, and one changes from being the head of a shark back into youth.
  • At the bottom of the lake Harry finds four people including Ron and Hermione floating, suspended in the water—their eyes are open and they look like they’re dead. It is not until they are rescued and come up to the surface that they take a breath and you realise they are alive.
  • After Harry has released Ron and another contestant’s young sister, and they are on their way back to the surface, the sea creatures drag Harry back down towards the bottom of the lake
  • The maze closes in on the contestants, trapping them with vines and appearing to suck them under ground.
  • Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), the contestant for Beauxbatons, screams and collapses. Then she seems to be swallowed up by the maze.
  • Wormtail is carrying body parts of Voldemort in a bundle which he throws into a cauldron.
  • Voldemort transforms from a shrivelled baby like creature, into a large embryo and then into a fully grown man with a skull face, evil eyes and no nose.
  • Harry’s parents appear to him as ghosts to encourage him.
  • Moody’s body has been taken over by Barty Crouch Junior, an evil Voldemort supporter. Moody is shown transforming into Crouch.

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 are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and by the death of Diggory (see below)

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.

Although children in this age group will understand that the magic and wizardry are fictitious, children aged eight to thirteen could still be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Other themes could also concern children in this age group, including:

  • The notion during the underwater section of the contest, that you could be responsible for the death of valued friends or family if you didn’t succeed at a task within a strict time limit could be worrying to some children.
  • The searing pain experienced by Harry when Voldemort presses on his scar.
  • The murder of Diggory is very emotional. Immediately after Diggory has died, his spirit asks Harry to take his body back to his father. When Harry returns with the body, the father cries with grief when we sees his son’s body.
  • The sorrow and grief around Diggory’s death, and Harry’s role in witnessing it and bringing the body back are left unresolved.

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.

Younger children in this age group may alsom be disturbed by some of the scenes in this film, particularly the death of Diggory.

Product placement

None of concern in the film, but plenty of associated merchandise being marketed to children, including those too young to see the film

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Mild coarse language such as "bloody hell"

In a nutshell

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a visually stunning film and excellent story, full of witchcraft, wizardry and magic. The special effects are very well done, the clumsy teenage romances are deftly handled and many adolescents will enjoy this movie. However, due to its overall sense of brooding darkness and the very dramatic and dark climax, this movie is not recommended for young and / or sensitive children.

The movie gives mixed messages. While Harry appears to have done the right thing, by sacrificing his win at the tournament to help his competitor, he in fact causes his death by doing so.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • self sacrifice
  • equal gender roles
  • courage.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the use of violence as a means of solving conflict. Parents should also be prepared for questions about what happens when good doesn’t appear to triumph over evil.

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