Mountain, The

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Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 12 (themes, language, upsetting scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mountain, The
  • a review of Mountain, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 July 2024.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to themes, language and upsetting scenes.
Children aged 9–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, language and upsetting 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: Mountain, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Young Sam (Elizabeth Atkinson) has been in the hospital for ages undergoing therapy for a cancer that has returned. She is part Maori, though she never knew her father or his people. She has, however, heard Maori legends, stories that have spoken to her soul, stories about connection to the land and its features, powerful stories that have given her hope. She decides to climb her mountain, Mount Taranaki, believing that if she can reach the summit, her mountain will help her and she will be cured. Moments before secretly leaving the hospital, she releases a bunch of balloons from the rooftop with the heartfelt message: “Let me live.”

The following morning, on the other side of the city, young Mallory (Reuben Francis), who has recently moved to the area after losing his mother to cancer, is entreating his father to join him on a climb of Mount Taranaki in her honour, saying that she would have loved it. Mallory’s suggestion is quickly dismissed by his father who sends him off to school. On the way, Mallory meets Bronco (Terence Daniel), who feels abandoned and neglected by his own father, and the pair soon stumble across a balloon with the cryptic message, “Let me live.” The boys soon encounter Sam, who has made it to the start of the trail for Mount Taranaki, and decide to help her on her quest to reach the summit and save her life. Mallory joins her in his quest for adventure and in honour of his mom, and Bronco is happy to join just to run away from his father and cause him some of the same pain that he himself has endured. Though they all bring some heavy baggage with them, they soon discover the transformative power of Mother Nature, the wondrous magic of friendship and, even though they have only just met, as they journey up the mountain the trio builds bonds and comradery that not even death can ever hope to destroy.


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.

Death of a loved one; Illness (specifically cancer); Children separated from parents; Family dysfunction; Grief; Running away.

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 character pretends to fight using flashlights as light sabres and karate moves.
  • Mallory shares how his mom died from cancer.
  • Sam lies to Mallory, telling him how her parents died in a plane crash.
  • Bronco tells Mallory that one day he is going to make him “flesh-eating angry”.
  • Sam asks Mallory to get her a gun.
  • Three kids electrocute themselves on a fence. They are shocked but otherwise unharmed.
  • A character violently slashes at dense forest vines with a stick.
  • Mallory falls off a cliff and into a river. He is carried over some rapids and knocked against rocks before Sam and Bronco can help him.
  • Sam falls and slices open her leg. There is a big, bloody gash that leaves a trail of blood along the path.
  • A bike and a helmet fall on a father as he approaches what he believes to be his son. It turns out to be a decoy and it collapses on the man, knocking him to the ground.

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 is a dense fog that rolls off the mountain. The kids are running from their parents as they are determined to complete their quest and the parents are determined to stop them. The fog swallows them up and no one can see anything. They can only yell to each other from inside it. The kids then wander off the path and out into even denser fog. The scene is not scary but it is eerie, and you can hear the determination in the voices of the kids as well as the desperation in the voices of the parents.

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:

  • Mallory accidentally overhears his father having a conversation with his dead mother, he sees his father sobbing and how he has become totally undone by her death. The scene is emotionally charged rather than scary, but some sensitive children may find it distressing to see a parental figure so upset.
  • The kids are all breathing hard as they take refuge in a cave after running from their parents. Sam is especially struggling, and you can really hear her laboured breathing in the pitch darkness. Combined with the knowledge of just how sick she is, the scene is stressful and scary for a moment but then glow worms fill the cave with iridescent light, transforming the overwhelming darkness into something almost magical.
  • Sam is shown extremely sick and in bed shortly before she dies. They boys have organised a lovely surprise for her, and the following scene shows them out under a sky full of stars, casting her name to the heavens so that she won’t be forgotten. The scene is not scary but it clearly shows that she is gone, and both of the boys are saddened by her loss. Some children are likely to be disturbed by this event and may find the casting of her name to the stars confusing, though older kids may find it comforting, touching or beautiful.

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.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Mallory’s father refers to him as a ‘weak, soggy, thing with no friends’.
  • ‘Blinkin’ is used repeatedly, such as: “blinkin rubbish”.
  • Cry baby
  • Heck
  • Occasionally characters say hurtful things to one another, such as: “Your mother’s dead. She can’t hear you.”

In a nutshell

The Mountain is a heart-warming and, at times, heart-breaking, drama from New Zealand director Rachel House. Full of weighty themes, the film shows how young people can deal with some of the most distressing aspects of life and still have hope and find wonder in the world. The film seamlessly incorporates Maori language, along with a deep respect and appreciation for nature that can be often overlooked or overshadowed. Due to its themes, the film is best suited to teens and older audiences, with parental guidance for ages 9 to 12.

The main messages from this movie are to believe that you have a purpose, that you are worthwhile and to recognise your worth even when others may fail to see your value or to see you for who you truly are. The film showcases the importance of listening to your heart and following your dreams, no matter where they may lead and no matter what may happen along the way.

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

  • Determination
  • Hope
  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Compassion
  • Respect.

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

  • Setting off on your own without letting parents know where you are going.
  • Disregarding medical advice and doing what you want instead of what doctors and parents believe is best.
  • Judging your children without taking the time to really see them for who they are.
  • Ignoring children and leaving them to themselves.
  • Forgetting that you are not alone in your grief and that if you are upset, sad or struggling, then those that love you are going through the same thing right alongside you.