Australian Council on Children and the Media

Little Women

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Not recommended under 8, parental guidance to 13 (Themes of death, illness and injury)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Little Women
  • a review of Little Women completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 September 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended under 8 due to themes of death, illness and injury.
Children aged 8–13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes of death, illness and injury.
Children over the age of 13 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: Little Women
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 112 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Little Women is a modern retelling of a timeless story. It follows the lives of the imaginative March sisters, Jo (Sarah Davenport), Meg (Melanie Stone), Beth (Allie Jennings) and Amy (Elise Jones), who are raised and encouraged by their home-schooling mother (Lea Thompson) while their father (Bart Johnson) fights overseas for their country. The girls are befriended by their rich neighbour’s grandson, Laurie (Lucas Gabreel) who, in time, becomes far more like family than a friend. As the sisters traverse the ups and downs of life Jo is determined to become a famous writer and leave her mark on the world. Despite her tremendous efforts to succeed no one is interested in publishing Jo’s novel until she meets Professor Freddy Bhaer (Ian Bohen) who believes in her writing and sees something special in her. With his encouragement Jo is finally able to find her voice and share her story with the world.

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.

Separation from a parent, terminal illness, growing up and fitting in.

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:

  • When Amy throws Jo’s notebook into the fire Jo says that she is going to kill her. She chases Amy around the room and brandishes a hot, metal poker at her before their mother intervenes.
  • After learning that Beth has leukaemia, in a fit of anger Jo smashes a candy machine in the hospital. She also knocks over a stand of postcards, leaving a trail of destruction behind her. Jo later pays for the damage she caused.

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:

  • Amy is thrown from a horse and hits her head on a rock, knocking herself unconscious.
  • Jo and Laurie find Amy lying unconscious in the woods after being thrown from a horse. There is blood splattered against the side of a rock and her head is bleeding badly. Jo calls to her repeatedly while Laurie races off for help and Amy remains unresponsive. The intense emotion of the scene may disturb some young viewers.

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:

  • Beth is shown very sick, sitting on a beach with Jo. She tells her sister that she can feel her life slipping away and that she knows she does not have long to live. The next scene is from her funeral, with her devastated family crying in the rain.

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:

  • There are no additional scenes that are likely to frighten children between the ages of eight to thirteen.

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.

It is unlikely children over the age of thirteen will be frightened by this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The Apple iPhone and MacBook are both displayed.
  • The girls make pledges and oaths over the book, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, and Jo carries it with her.
  • Madeleine L'Engle’s book, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, is both referenced and shown.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • When Meg refuses to go any further with a boy at a dance, saying that she “can’t do this”, he stalks off saying that “there are plenty of girls who will”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • At a dance Meg wears a very skimpy, revealing dress and a boy kisses her passionately while moving his hands slowly over her body.
  • Jo kisses Freddy.
  • Laurie tries to kiss Jo but she stops him.

Use of substances

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

  • Lots of kids at a party are clearly drinking.
  • While trying to ‘fit in’, Meg drinks from a hip flask a boy hands her.
  • When the girls are older the family drinks wine over dinner.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Crap” and a few insults such as “Stupid” and “Dumb.”

In a nutshell

Little Women is a modern drama based on the timeless novel by Louisa May Alcott. A heart-warming story of sisterhood that is best suited to slightly older children and will largely appeal to female audiences.

The main messages from this movie are to be good and kind; to realise the power of friends, family and forgiveness; to never stop doing what you love; to build your castles in the air and to forge foundations under them.

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

  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Creativity and understanding.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Peer pressure, the desire to ‘fit in’ and how that can lead you astray.
  • Jo’s anger management and how she must manage her emotions or suffer the consequences.
  • Failing to forgive someone.

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