Australian Council on Children and the Media

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Not recommended under 10, Parental guidance to 13 (Violence; Scary scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • a review of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 February 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended for children of this age due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children 10-13 parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
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.

Name of movie: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence
Length 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the prequel to the well known and loved epic Star Wars series. It sets the scene for the rest of the series, and was released 16 years after the original Star Wars trilogy. It has now been rereleased in 3D. 

The film tells the childhood story of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) a young slave boy who lives with his mother on the desert planet Tatooine.  Anakin displays signs of being strong in the Force and an amazing Podracer pilot. On a trip to Tatooine, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) discovers Anakin, sees his potential to be a great Jedi Knight and recruits him.

A secondary plot sees the droid army of the greedy Trade Federation plotting an invasion of the peaceful planet of Naboo as part of a secret plot to gain power over the galaxy. The Jedi knights led by Qui-Gob Jinn and his ‘padawan’ apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are called in to defend Queen Amidala of Naboo (Natalie Portman) and her people and a war between good and evil ensues. 

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.

Slavery and children as slaves; separation from parents; war

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.

Throughout the movie there are scenes of war, dog-fights between airships and other battle scenarios.  The impact of these scenes is accentuated by being in 3D, and for younger viewers this may be scary. Examples of violence include:

  • Jedi knights land on the Federation ships and come across droids in a human like form who are trying to attack them by filling the room with poisonous gas.  This creates a fight and the Jedis are seen dismembering and ‘killing’ the droids. 
  • During a pod-race, Annakin is attacked by the Sand People who take shots at him with a rifle.  Annakin does not seem worried by the attack. 
  • Two Jedi knights fight Darth Maul using lasers.  One of the Jedi knights is stabbed through the stomach, and Darth Maul is cut in half and 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.

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:

  • Jabba the Hutt flicks two small non-aggressive animals off a wall to their deaths.
  • The trade federation is presented as an evil force, accentuated by scary music and menacing outfits.  This will be frightening to children of this age group.
  • Darth Maul is a menacing and evil character who is likely to frighten children of this age group.

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 of this age are likely to be upset by the separation of Annakin from his mother when he is offered an escape from slavery and asked to join the Jedi council.  Annakin and his mother are both seen to be sad at the separation, although she believes that it is the best thing he can do.

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 may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

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 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is the first of the well known and loved science fiction fantasy adventure series, made as a prequel and now rereleased in 3D. It is likely to be too scary for most under 10s and some slightly older children, particularly in the more intense 3D format.

The main messages from this movie are about the triumph of good over evil, listening to your inner self and trusting in yourself to be the best you can be.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss issues such as:

  • Is war justified?  Why or why not?  What are the alternatives?
  • The evils of slavery, particularly involving children, and its effects on groups of people in the world today

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