Magician’s Elephant, The

image for Magician’s Elephant, The

Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 12 (violence, themes, fantasy, scary scenes)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Magician’s Elephant, The
  • a review of Magician’s Elephant, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 April 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to violence, violent themes, and scary scenes.
Children aged 5–12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes, and scary scenes.
Children aged 13 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Magician’s Elephant, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Violence, Themes, Fantasy Themes, Scary Scenes
Length: 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Peter (voice of Noah Jupe) is an orphan boy under the care of Sergeant Vilna Lutz (voice of Mandy Patinkin), who raises him to be a soldier. One day, on the way to the market to pick up his daily bread and fish, he encounters an enticing fortune teller tent. The Fortune Teller (voice of Natasia Demetriou) confirms that his sister is still alive, contrary to the story Sergeant Lutz told him. To find his sister, he must follow the elephant.

Magically, an elephant appears. Peter is determined to follow the elephant to find his sister. The elephant remains captive at the Countess’ (voice of Kirby Howell-Baptise) palace. The King (voice of Aasif Mandvi) orders Peter to complete three impossible tasks before he releases the elephant into his care. With the help of Captain Mattiene (voice of Brian Tyree Henry) and the Captain’s wife, Gloria (voice of Sian Clifford), Peter uses his determination, courage and wits to complete all three impossible tasks. Throughout this time, Peter forms a strong bond with the elephant.

Peter’s sister, Adele (voice of Pixie Davis), who is also orphaned and cared for by Sister Marie (voice of Dawn French), dreams about an elephant. After learning that an elephant has appeared in the city, she insists Sister Marie takes her to the city to see the elephant. During this time the siblings are reunited.


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.

Fantasy; Family death; Family separation; Family devotion; Optimism; Overcoming obstacles.

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:

  • A sword flight between Peter and a very large, armoured soldier, Sergeant de Smedt, including a near decapitation.
  • Whilst no fighting actually occurs, there are scenes of Peter running and trying to escape from the soldier, who chases him relentlessly through the streets, thrusting his sword at Peter and roaring at him, as well as cutting off a post with his sword.
  • Flash backs to The Great Foreign War. Depictions of active combat and explosions. Peter and his baby sister are seen in this life-threatening situation at the battle ground.
  • Peter bangs his fists on a wall in frustration.
  • Adele punches Peter in the arm in two scenes.

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:

  • Suspenseful, loud and dramatic music throughout the film.
  • Dark lighting throughout the majority of the film, until the town is ‘brightened’ with the return of magic.
  • Use of magic spells.
  • Aggression from the elephant being chained to restrain it.
  • The elephant falls from the sky and pins a woman’s legs.
  • Peter is struck down by the elephant. He is not hurt.
  • The elephant is seen with chains around its back legs.

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:

  • Peter is an orphan and is told by Sergeant Lutz that his mother and sister died during childbirth.
  • Adele is an orphan and is told by Sister Marie that her brother died in The Great Foreign War.
  • The Great Foreign War has depictions of widespread fire destroying villages.
  • The elephant is chained up and ordered to be killed. Guns are pointed towards the distressed elephant.
  • The elephant has a bad dream about being separated from their herd/family while swimming underwater. This scene can be interpreted that the elephant was drowning.
  • Imprisonment of the Magician.
  • Sister Marie talks of a non-specific ‘danger’ in the city.
  • The countess does not smile since her brother was killed in the war.
  • The palace guards raise guns to shoot the elephant on two occasions.
  • The palace staff treated the elephant as a “criminal” and said she “may need to be gotten rid of”.

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:

  • Sergeant Lutz only allows Peter to eat stale bread and the smallest fish at the market.
  • Sergeant Lutz makes Peter march back and forth in the kitchen, every day, as a part of his ‘solider training’.
  • Peter breaks into the Countess’ castle by jumping over the fence and has to hide to evade the guards.
  • Mention of murdering the elephant, “shoot it, shoot it”.
  • Sergeant de Smedt is referred to as a ‘killing machine’.
  • Mention of killing oneself by using a makeshift parachute, then Peter indeed uses a makeshift parachute.
  • Peter balances along the roof of the cathedral and falls. He hangs on by one hand.
  • Peter jumps off the cathedral roof in his challenge to fly. There is a long scene of Peter in freefall.
  • Mention of Peter being “...crushed flat. Dead like your sister”.

Thirteen and overinfo

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.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The King says to the Countess, “With a tan I become irresistible”.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • The king is often seen with a drinking glass in his hand, suggestive of alcohol use and possible intoxication.
  • Wine glasses are held on various occasions. The King is pictured drinking out of the wine glass once.
  • At the castle the King refers to drinking schnapps.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Booing.
  • A child insult/sarcasm toward Adele, “I’m sure you’re hilarious”.

In a nutshell

The Magician’s Elephant is a heartfelt and inspiring, animated film, based on the book by Kate Dicamillo, with an overall suitability for a child audience, with parental supervision for ages 5 to 12. The film portrays strong moral values and insightfulness, and parents will appreciate the diversity of the main cast and village people, as well as the abundance of positivity within the movie, including that, “things are only impossible until they are not”.

The main messages from this movie are the importance of family devotion; to have compassion towards others, including animals; and that nothing is impossible.

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

  • Compassion
  • Determination – nothing is impossible
  • Belief – particularly believing in yourself
  • Hope and holding onto your hopes and dreams
  • Adventure
  • Selflessness – Putting others before yourself
  • Team work
  • Belonging and the importance of family
  • That young children are courageous and brave.

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

  • Lying.
  • Following you heart.
  • Things are only impossible until they are not.
  • Sometimes we might sacrifice our own happiness for that of others.
  • When things are hard to do, or achieve, we are not alone. We can make the impossible, possible with the help of others.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of:

  • Being kind and courageous and caring about others, including people and animals, as well as believing in yourself.
  • Family, both for humans and animals
  • Honesty
  • Dreams coming true.