Song for Marion

image for Song for Marion

Short takes

Not recommended under 12, PG to 14 (Themes; Lack of interest)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Song for Marion
  • a review of Song for Marion completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to themes and lack of interest
Children 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and lack of interest
Children 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Song for Marion
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Song for Marion stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a grumpy, misanthropic pensioner who has trouble understanding why his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) would want to embarrass herself by singing as part of an elderly choir group. As Marion’s health deteriorates and she loses her battle with cancer, Arthur tries to accommodate the wishes of his wife and frequently takes her to choir practice, opting to isolate himself outside and smoke in a secluded area during their rehearsals. However, choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) appears to see something beyond Arthur’s cold exterior, and refuses to give up on encouraging him to participate.

After Marion dies, Arthur realises that change is indeed possible for him. He joins the choir, trying hard to let go of the long-standing bitterness and anger that he has used in the past to protect himself from getting close to people, including his estranged son James (Christopher Eccleston).

When a long-awaited singing competition takes place and the choir is told they will not be allowed to sing, Arthur takes action.


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.

Ageing and death; terminal illness; family relationships

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.

None of concern

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.

There is one scene in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight:

  • As a cancer sufferer, Marion is given very little time to live after it is revealed that her cancer has returned. Halfway through the film, Marion dies and she is shown lying in bed with her eyes open, as Arthur wakes up and realises what has happened.

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 are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scene

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scene

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 of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There were few sexual references in this movie, including:

  • One of the songs that the choir group elects to sing is “Let’s talk about sex”.
  • When Elizabeth is trying to convince the choir group to sing a rock song, she says that the original band members are “proper ugly, but they get laid daily”.
  • After the judge for the competition arrives, one of the elderly choir group members provocatively tells him “What do I have to do to get us through to the competition? I’m prepared to do anything”.

Nudity and sexual activity

Arthur and Marion share two brief kisses during the course of the film

Use of substances

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

  • Arthur is continually seen smoking cigarettes outside the place where the choir group practices. At one point, Elizabeth says to him “Arthur, have you been smoking again? Smoke outside, it’s hard enough keeping this place open as it is”.
  • Arthur goes “out with the lads” one night to a bar, where people are seen casually drinking beer.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Frequent use of “bloody” and “shit”; “crap”; “arse”

In a nutshell

Song for Marion is a heart-warming film that highlights the difficulties that come with change and ageing. Arthur is a man who has shut off his emotions in an attempt to cope with the imminent death of his wife, but has lost sight of what it really means to live. After she dies, he begins to realise that he has to change his ways, or he risks living in isolation and misery for the rest of his days.

The film lacks interest for children and its themes of ageing and terminal illness make it more suited to adults. Younger children may be upset by scenes of Marion’s death.

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

  • It’s OK to make a fool of yourself sometimes - don’t miss out on things you’d like to do just because people might make fun of you.
  • It’s never too late to make amends with people you have wronged. It is always worth trying one more time.
  • Focusing on only the negative things in life will make you miserable – look for the positive things.
  • Your sole goal should never simply be to win – failure can teach you important lessons.