Australian Council on Children and the Media

Lassie

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Short takes

Parental guidance to 13 (Theme.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Lassie
  • a review of Lassie completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 March 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Preschoolers may have trouble following the story.
Children aged 5-8 Due to the movieu2019s theme, parental guidance is recommended for children aged between 5 to 8.
Children aged 8-13 Due to the movieu2019s theme, parental guidance is recommended for children aged between 8 to 13. In some ways some children in this age group may be more upset than younger children, as they will have a better comprehension of both the storyline and the feelings and emotions that this movie engenders.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be able to see this movie with or without parental guidance, depending on parentu2019s assessment of their ability to cope with the movieu2019s theme.

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: Lassie
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Lassie is the much loved family pet of a poor mining family, the Carracloughs, who live in a village in Yorkshire. The family consists of Mum (Samantha Morton), Dad (John Lynch) and their son Joe (Jonathan Mason) who is about eight or nine years old. They have two dogs, Cricket and Lassie, and while Joe is fond of Cricket, his real affection is for Lassie who is his constant companion.

One day the mine is closed so Dad loses his job. The family is desperately short of money and much against their will, they have to sell Lassie to the Duke (Peter O’Toole). Lassie goes to live with the Duke and his grand-daughter, but keeps escaping and going back to the Carracloughs. Finally she is transported to the Dukes estate in Scotland where Hines (Steve Pemberton) the head kennel man, who has a nasty temperament, makes life even harder for Lassie.

Lassie eventually escapes from the Dukes estate and heads for home. For part of the journey she is befriended by a gypsy dwarf and his dog Toots, but most of the journey is hard and long and Lassie faces many obstacles and dangers on her journey.

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.

Animal distress and cruelty to animals.

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 few violent scenes in this film, including:

  • Hines hits Lassie with a belt
  • a farmer shoots at Lassie
  • two poachers attack the dwarf with big cudgel-like sticks; they also hit Lassie and the Dwarf’s dog Toots

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 is some material in this film will upset rather than scare children, including:

  • Joe is smacked on the hand by the teacher and is visibly upset by this
  • Joe’s father goes off to the army and has to say goodbye to Joe and his mother
  • a farmer throws a stone at Lassie
  • the dwarf and the dogs are attacked and hit by two poachers with sticks
  • Toots is hit very hard and killed by one of the poachers
  • Lassie is so sick, the family believe she will die.

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 upset by the above mentioned scenes.

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.

There are some other scenes that could upset children aged eight to thirteen, such as:

  • a fox being chased by dogs and horses during a hunt
  • Hines threatens to force food down Lassie’s throat
  • the council catches Lassie and tries to put her in a cage with noose around her neck.

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 over the age of thirteen could watch this movie without parental guidance, but may find some scenes very emotional and sad.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

None of concern.

Coarse language

The film contains some very mild coarse language, for example: “You bloody idiot.”

In a nutshell

The movie Lassie demonstrates that for a dog, the love of a family is more important than a fancy kennel or a nice bed. Lassie journeys home, against difficult odds out of loyalty for her family and the love she has for them and they for her.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • kindness
  • determination
  • caring
  • loyalty
  • freedom
  • tolerance
  • understanding
  • listening

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the issue of cruelty to animals.

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