Australian Council on Children and the Media

Lord of the Rings: The TwoTowers

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Not recommended under 12, PG to 14 (Violence, Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Lord of the Rings: The TwoTowers
  • a review of Lord of the Rings: The TwoTowers completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 February 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 12-14 parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 15 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: Lord of the Rings: The TwoTowers
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence
Length 179 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is a sequel to Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. The end of the first episode saw the disbanding of the Fellowship which has now broken into three groups whose stories intertwine throughout the film.

Frodo and Sam continue their journey to Mordor, now accompanied by Gollum as their
guide. Gollum is torn between his desire to serve his new master or to kill him to regain his ‘precious’. This indecision continues throughout the film. Their path takes them through the Dead Marshes where dead people lie in watery graves lit by flaming torches. Frodo is mesmerised by this and falls into one of the pools. He almost drowns but is rescued by Gollum. Frodo and Sam are captured by the men of Gondor whose captain is Faramir, brother of Boromir. Faramir also greatly desires the ring and the power it wields however he finally releases Frodo and Sam when he comes to realise what’s at stake.

Meanwhile Merry and Pippin manage to escape the Orcs who are beset upon by the Riders of Rohan and are all killed. Merry and Pippin head into Fangorn Forest where they meet Treebeard, an Ent or tree herd. The Ents are very slow to make decisions and are reluctant to become involved in the war between Wizards and men. However they are greatly stirred up by the destruction of their forest and they march onto Isengard in fury, destroying everything but the tower.

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the trail of the two young hobbits to Fangorn where they again meet up with Gandalf who is now Gandalf the White. These four journey to Rohan where they manage to revive King Theoden who had been under the spell of Saruman. The King leads his men to battle against the mighty host of Isengard and this great battle is the culmination of this part of the story. The men are vastly outnumbered by the Uruk Hai but they battle valiantly on and are helped in the end by Gandalf who has managed to rally a host of over a thousand men from Westfold to claim victory over the host of Isengard.

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; good versus evil

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 much violence in this film. It is mostly performed by heroes and is successful, with nearly all the victims being evil people or beings. As this is purely a fantasy film there are very few real life consequences. Examples include:

  • Balrog attacks Gandalf and pulls him into the abyss. Gandalf manages to kill the Balrog after a violent struggle.
  • When Frodo and Sam find Gollum, he viciously fights them, kicking, biting and screaming.
  • Gollum is held by an elvish rope around his neck which causes him great pain, making him writhe and scream.
  • Orcs destroy the village of Rohan, burning people and killing them with swords.
  • The Orcs who have captured Merry and Pippin have debates about whether to eat them or not.
  • The Riders of Rohan attack the Orcs and there is a great sword battle in which all of the Orcs are destroyed and their bodies burnt. Orc heads are left on spikes.
  • Wormtongue is physically thrown down the stairs.
  • The final battle is long and gruesome: horses, wolves, men, orcs and elves are all killed.
  • Aragorn falls over the edge of a cliff and is thought to have died, however he is revived by Arwen. He has a torn and bleeding shoulder.
  • An Orc coughs up blood.

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 scary images in this film that would terrify children in this age group
including:

  • The Balrog is a  monstrous creature with horns and towers over everyone
  • Gollum is a thin, bony creature who crawls on all fours. He is only covered by a loincloth and his spine sticks out. He has a grotesquely large, hairless head with huge eyes and large ears.
  • The Orcs are also grotesque creatures with long pointy faces, ears and eyes –they look extremely ugly and evil.
  • Isengard is a scary, evil, dark castle. In Isengard all of the workers look monstrous and a huge creature emerges from a slimy membrane.
  • Treebeard the Ent who appears to be a tree, opens his eyes and starts talking in a very deep voice.
  • The Dead Marshes have dead bodies in watery graves. Frodo is mesmerised by them.
  • Gollum says “Hobbits might go down to join the dead ones and light little candles of their own”. Frodo falls into the water when the dead person’s eyes open blankly and seems to be drowning. He sees ghostly creatures in the water before Gollum pulls him out.
  •  Black Riders appear in wraith like forms on huge flying birds screaming in high pitched voices.
  • At the gates of Mordor the great army of Mordor appears covered in brass armour and looking terrifying.
  • Gollum eats raw rabbits and fish.
  • The Wolves of Isengard are huge fierce creatures.
  • Saruman out of him. He visibly changes into a much younger looking man.
  • When the Orcs are attacking Rohan, a mother sends her children away to protect them but they are much distressed at being separated from their mother.

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 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.

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

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 also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Sexual references

None of concern

Use of substances

Some pipe smoking

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

This is a film that adults would enjoy - with a great cast, beautiful scenery and good special effects.  It is an heroic, epic tale full of adventure, tragedy and fantasy. Because of its violence and scary scenes, it is really not suitable for children and the M rating is appropriate.

The main message in this movie is that good triumphs over evil. In this case the evil
beings are Orcs, Uruk Hai, Wargs or Wolves, and the evil wizards Sauron and Saruman.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • friendship and loyalty
  • courage and perseverance
  • mercy




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