Australian Council on Children and the Media

Romeo and Juliet

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Short takes

Not recommended under 12, Parental guidance recommended 12 to 14 (Violence: Themes: Lacks interest for younger children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Romeo and Juliet
  • a review of Romeo and Juliet completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence and lack of interest
Children aged 12 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and themes
Children aged 14 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: Romeo and Juliet
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is the latest film adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragic tale of romance between star-crossed lovers. The Montacute and Capulet families are sworn enemies and hate each other with a vengeance. This is very unfortunate for Juliet, a Capulet, (Hailee Steinfield) and Romeo, a Montacute, (Douglas Booth) who fall madly in love and have to keep their love a secret. They marry in secret, with the blessing of Juliet’s nanny (Leslie Manville), but when Romeo kills Tybalt (Ed Westwick) in a sword fight, he is banished and sent into exile.

Lord Capulet (Damien Lewis) is determined that Juliet will marry Count Paris (Tom Wisdom) much to Juliet’s dismay. When she tells her troubles to the Friar who married them (Paul Giametti), he devises a clever plan whereby Juliet will drink poison and appear dead but will only be asleep for several hours. The Friar sends word to Romeo of his plan but the messenger is waylaid and instead Romeo receives the news that Juliet has died. He returns to find her lying on her tomb and decides he will kill himself to join her by drinking poison. Before he dies, however, Juliet awakes and finds him dying. She then kills herself with his sword.

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.

Family feuds; doomed love; death and suicide

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 considerable violence in this movie including:

  • The Capulets and Montacutes have a jousting tournament.
  • A sword fight breaks out in the market place but no-one is injured.
  • Tybalt challenges Romeo to a fight but his cousin Mercutio intervenes and threatens to ‘cut his innards out’.  Tybalt and Mercutio fight with swords and Mercutio is killed when Tybalt’s sword goes through his stomach.
  • Romeo and Tybalt fight with swords and Romeo stabs Tybalt through the chest, killing him.
  • Lord Capulet shouts at Juliet when she refuses to marry Count Paris and pushes her onto her bed.
  • Paris and Romeo have a sword fight and Romeo kills Paris in self-defence.
  • Romeo kills himself by drinking poison.
  • Juliet kills herself with Romeo’s sword – pushing it into her chest.

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 are most likely to be disturbed by the violence described above.

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

  • Juliet is seen laid out on her tomb apparently dead.
  • Tybalt is also seen laid out on a tomb

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 likely to be disturbed by Romeo’s and Juliet’s suicides.

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 suicides of Romeo and Juliet.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Several references to unfulfilled love and desire

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Several passionate kisses between Romeo and Juliet.
  • On the eve of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding they kiss passionately and undress each other but are shown in underwear. They spend the night in bed together but nothing much is shown.

Use of substances

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

  • Alcohol is consumed at a celebration and youths are seen drinking alcohol out of a bottle and behaving in a drunken manner.
  • Romeo and Juliet both knowingly drink poison which has fatal consequences.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh my God
  • Name calling such as ‘puking fool’ and villain, dog.

In a nutshell

Romeo and Juliet is the latest movie version of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the doomed romance of two young people who are dvictims of a family feud. This adaption of the story is filmed in beautiful settings on location in Italy but the Shakespearean language, which is not true to the original, sounds stilted, flat and unnatural, particularly between the two young lovers.  As a result, younger viewers may find it quite tedious. A number of scenes are too violent for young children, and tweens and younger teens may be disturbed by the suicides of Romeo and Juliet.

The main message from this movie is that love can rise above hatred.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include the questioning of traditionally held hatred and bigotry.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss how values have changed since Shakespeare’s time and whether it is possible to fall in love by sight alone, without actually knowing the other person.

 

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