Australian Council on Children and the Media

Oranges and Sunshine

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13, not recommended 13-14 (Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Oranges and Sunshine
  • a review of Oranges and Sunshine completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 May 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to disturbing themes and scenes
Children 13-14 Not recommended due to disturbing themes and 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: Oranges and Sunshine
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and coarse language
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Oranges and Sunshine is the true story of Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson) who inadvertently stumbles onto the incredible story of child migrants who were forcibly removed from Britain and taken mainly to Australia, during a period that extended from the end of World War II to the 1970’s.  130,000 disadvantaged children, as young as four, were sent to institutional care in distant countries, often being told that their parents were dead when they weren’t. Parents were also told that their children had died.

Margaret Humphreys faces an uphill battle as she tries to uncover the truth from both the British and Australian governments but is stonewalled. Her life is also threatened on many occasions for raising the issue. These child migrants were promised a life of oranges and sunshine but tragically the institutions that were meant to care for them mistreated them badly. Many, now adults, suffer great trauma from memories of physical and sexual abuse, often at the hands of the Christian Brothers.

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.

Child abuse; Sexual abuse; Separation from parents

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 violent man tries to break into Margaret’s house, smashes a window, yells obscenities at her and forces her to run and hide.

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 scene, there are some scenes in this movie that could disturb children under five, including:

  • Several disturbing accounts of abuse, physical and sexual, told by adult males about their childhood with the Christian Brothers.

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 scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could disturb children aged five to eight, including:

  • Stories of separation and lack of identity.

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 are also likely to be disturbed by the stories of abuse and separation

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 the stories of abuse and separation

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • talk of boys being sexually abused while in care.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Margaret and her husband are shown in bed together obviously making love – nothing too graphic.

Use of substances

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

  • drinking and smoking at pubs, barbeques, parties.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “fucking bitch”, “whore”

In a nutshell

Oranges and Sunshine is a powerful and moving story with strong characters and some lovely local scenery. The abuse is told as narrative rather than shown but due to its content it is more suited to an adult audience.

The main message from this movie is to keep fighting for truth and justice.

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

  • determination
  • empathy
  • compassion

 Parents may also wish to discuss what happened to the children involved and the ongoing effects on their lives.

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