Australian Council on Children and the Media

National Treasure

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Short takes

Parental guidance to 13 (Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for National Treasure
  • a review of National Treasure completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 December 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the level of violence, parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 8.
Children aged 8-13 Some children aged 8-13 may still need parental guidance to view this movie
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be able to view this movie with or without parental guidance.

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: National Treasure
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence
Length 131 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

As a young boy, Ben Gates is enthralled by his Grandfather’s tales of long lost treasure being taken from beneath Solomon’s Temple by the Knights Templars and taken to Europe to bury in a very secret place to prevent the British finding it. The only clue to its location is that the secret lies with Charlotte. As an adult, Ben is determined to find the treasure. He believes the Charlotte is a ship which sank in the Arctic Ocean and sets out with a crew of men, his friend Riley Poole and a crew of cutthroats headed by a man called Ian who finances the expedition. They find the ship and discover what seems to be a pipe and a further clue indicating that the map to the treasure is written on the back of the Declaration of Independence in indelible ink. Things turn nasty when Ben refuses to steal the Declaration of Independence and Ian and his mates decide to blow the ship up with Ben and Riley still on board.

Ben and Riley survive the blast and return to the States. It then becomes a race to see who will find the map first as Ben decides he must steal it to prevent it falling into Ian’s hands. Ben enlists the unwilling Dr. Abigail Gates to help and she too soon becomes quite intrigued. The hunt leads them to various historic sights and eventually to Trinity Church where great danger awaits them in a tomb beneath the church. It becomes a battle of wits as to who will succeed.

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 quite a bit of violence in this movie, most of it being unrealistic and without consequence:

  • Soldiers rampage a village
  • Mild war scenes are shown
  • Ben cuts his arm with a knife to make it bleed and spreads blood over a book.
  • A man throws a flare which ignites gunpowder and sets his arm on fire.
  • There are several gun battles when Ian and mates try to shoot Ben and Riley – no-one gets seriously injured
  • Abigail is abducted and taken in back of van – she tries to escape and nearly falls off the van door.
  • Ben punches one of the bad men.
  • A rickety staircase in the tomb collapses and one of the bad men falls down a long way and presumably 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.

Children in this age group could be scared by the above mentioned violent scenes and also by the following:

  • At the start of the movie young Ben Gates is looking at his Grandfather’s things – it is thundering and Grandpa appears quite suddenly, startling Ben.
  • Walking through the ship wreck is quite eerie – it is very dark and they uncover some skeletons.
  • A skeleton is guarding a barrel and Ben has to remove its fingers
  • Ben and Riley are trapped in the hold of ship but manage to get out just before it explodes
  • A coffin is opened and a skeleton jumps out
  • Stairs collapse under Abigail and she nearly falls off – Ben saves her but then lets her go. Her fall is broken by a platform.
  • Ian and crew leave Ben and friends locked in the tomb.

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 could also 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.

While children in this age group would realise this is a fantasy, some may still be scared by the above mentioned scenes particularly where the man gets burnt.

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.

Children in this age group would not be scared by this movie.

Sexual references

When Ben takes Abigail home to his father, he presumes she must be pregnant.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.

Use of substances

There is no use of substances.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language.

In a nutshell

The take home message is that good triumphs over evil.

Values parents may wish to encourage include friendship and courage.

Parents could discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be using theft as a means to an end.

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