Australian Council on Children and the Media

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Not recommended for children under 13 years, Parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Disturbing scenes; Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • a review of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 August 2001.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended for children under 13 due to disturbing scenes and violence
Children aged 13-15 Parental Guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and violence

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: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Supernatural themes and mild level violence
Length 178 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fellowship of the Ring is the first epic Lord of the Rings movie in the trilogy produced by Peter Jackson.  It is based closely on the time honoured books of the same name written by JRR Tolkien in the 1950’s.

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a humble Hobbit thrust unexpectedly into a treacherous quest to save the lands of Middle Earth by destroying the Dark Lord’s evil ‘Ring of Power’ (the one ring to rule them all).  Sauron (Sala Baker), the Dark Lord, created the Ring centuries earlier to rule Middle Earth, however when the Ring is lost to him he makes it his purpose to get the ring back and unleash his evil power upon Middle Earth. 

Gandalf (Ian McKellan), a well loved wizard, knows that hobbits are the only race in Middle Earth pure enough of heart to be able to carry the Ring safely to the land of Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed.  Frodo is handed this responsibility by Gandalf and he hesitantly sets out on this heroic journey.

Frodo is guided through his quest by his hobbit friends, Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), as well as the Fellowship of the Ring formed to represent all of the free races of Middle Earth.

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; Armageddon; death

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.

This film features continuous intense action violence, including scenes of blood and other injury. Examples include:

  • Wars between good and evil where killing of people and creatures by sword, knives, bow and arrows, catapult and ball and chain are seen.  The bodies of people who have died are seen including one scene where a dead body floats down a river with arrows sticking out and blood flowing. Severed heads of Orcs are seen.
  • Gollum is tortured by Sauron and his army.  He is heard screaming in pain.
  • The Ringwaith, the dark riders hunting Frodo and the Hobbits for the Ring, stab Frodo with a sword and almost kill him.
  • Two very popular characters are killed during the film, Gandalf and Boromir. Gandalf is killed when attacked by a dark dragon and he falls into the fiery pit of hell and Boromir is killed in war by the Orcs, who repeatedly shoot him with bows and arrows. Blood drips from his mouth before he collapses and is left to die. He is found by his friend Aragon who holds him until he dies.

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:

  • There are many scenes throughout this movie representing supernatural monsters and creatures, including the Orcs, that are either frightening or disgusting, or both. These creatures represent evil and it is clear that the Orcs and Sauron are intent on causing harm to Frodo and his army. When Sauron creates his army of Orcs, they are seen being born from slimy eggs, creating weapons and roaring angrily as they prepare to attack Frodo and the Fellowship.
  • Gollum, after years of being affected by the Ring, is now a crippled, creepy character who is obsessed with the Ring and intent on getting it back at any cost.
  • The Hobbits and the Fellowship are all visibly traumatised by the loss of two well-loved characters.
  • Frodo and the Hobbits are hunted by the Ringwaith who are dark, armoured hunters on large black horses also with armour.  They are menacing and scary in nature and during one scene they knife Frodo through his shoulder, almost killing him.

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 scared or disturbed by the scenes described above.

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 particularly disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Frodo has a premonition of his town being burnt to the ground by Sauron.  People including children are seen running in fear.
  • Frodo and Aragon are caught on a collapsing bridge however are able to escape safely.
  • Samwise Gangee almost drowns at the end of the movie.  He is rescued by Frodo however because he is so well loved, this scene is frightening as we see Samwise struggle to breath and then give up. 
  • Boromir is given a watery grave. He is seen floating in a boat down the river until he goes over the waterfall and disappears.

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.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • The hobbits drink ale out of pint glasses during Bilbo Baggins’ farewell party.  Bilbo Baggins at times slurs his speech during his farewell toast
  • The Hobbits enter a pub to find refuge from the Ringwaith. Most of the patrons are seen drinking and in various states of intoxication
  • Bilbo makes a reference to smoking weed
  • Gandalf is seen smoking a pipe

Coarse language

There is some mild language in this movie, including:

  • hell
  • fool
  • stupid

In a nutshell

The Lord of the Ring: Fellowship of the Ring is an epic tale of good and evil and the story of an unexpected hero who risks all on a quest to save his land.

The main messages from this movie are of friendship and loyalty.  Sam’s commitment and loyalty to his dear friend Frodo is beautifully expressed throughout this movie, as are other friendships such as Gandalf’s friendship with Bilbo and the Hobbits, and the Fellowship’s loyalties to each other and to Frodo and his friends.

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

  • trust
  • selflessness
  • loyalty
  • responsibility to the greater good

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

  • Good and evil is a strong theme throughout this movie.  Parents could explore these concepts in reference to today’s world.
  • The narrator makes the statement, ‘no matter your size,we all have a part to play in humanity’.  Parents could explore this reference with their children.

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