Australian Council on Children and the Media

Star Wars Episode IV: A new hope

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Not recommended under 8, PG to 10, Violence and scary scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Star Wars Episode IV: A new hope
  • a review of Star Wars Episode IV: A new hope completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 February 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 11 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 IV: A new hope
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence
Length 120 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is the original Star Wars film from 1977, which was re-released with a subtitle after the release of two sequels and three prequels.

The Galaxy is in the control of the Empire under the influence of the dark side of the force. It rules with an iron fist and has created a starship called the Death Star, which has the capacity to wipe out an entire planet with just one strike. The rebel forces decide to strike back and under the command of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), they steal the plans of the Death Star to examine it for any weaknesses.

The Imperial forces attack the rebels’ ship and capture Princess Leia.  However the Droid R2D2 (Kenny Baker) manages to escape the ship with the plans and another robot C-P30 (Anthony Daniels). They land on a planet where they come into the possession of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a boy who’s been living with his Aunt and Uncle since his own parents died. R2D2 explains that he must find Obi Wan Kenobi, one of only two remaining Jedi knights, to rescue the princess from a certain death. Luke sets out to find Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) who understands the danger and wants to recruit Luke into the arts of the Jedi in order to help. Luke is reluctant, but when he returns home he finds his uncle and aunt have been killed by the imperial forces looking for R2D2.

Luke knows he must join with Obi Wan Kenobi to fight the dark forces and together they set out on a dangerous mission to rescue the Princess. They recruit Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to fly them to Anderaan with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) as co-pilot. The group is relentlessly pursued by the imperial forces which leads to a great battle where they manage to rescue the Princess. They have very little time, however, to save more of the Galaxy from being destroyed by the Death Star.

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.

Good versus evil; Loss of parents; Search for identity

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:

  • Laser gun battles between enemy soldiers – some are killed.
  • A lot of battle scenes with light sabres.
  • Darth Vader holds a man up by his neck, strangles him and throws him to the ground.
  • Princess Leia is knocked unconscious by a laser.
  • Sandpeople attack Luke quite viciously and knock him out with a mace.
  • C-P30 has his arm cut off with a laser.
  • Darth Vader chokes a senator using ‘the force’.
  • Obi Wan cuts off a man’s arm with a laser.
  • Han Solo kills a threatening alien with a gun.

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:

  • Many alien creatures – some quite large dinosaur characters, mammoth beasts and others of all weird shapes, colours and sizes.
  • Chewbacca is a large bear type creature who growls all the time.
  • Darth Vader is a very menacing character –covered in a black armoured suit complete with face covering. He breathes very heavily.
  • The sand people are little people covered in brown robes and hoods with eyes that shine in the dark.
  • A snake-like creature pulls Luke into a slimy pit.
  • A man with an ugly, disfigured face threatens Luke

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

  • Luke’s home is destroyed and he finds charred bodies (his aunt and uncle) briefly shown.
  • The head of the Imperial Forces orders Princess Leia to be killed.
  • The Death Star completely destroys the planet Anderaan with one strike.
  • Luke, Han and Princess Leia are trapped in a pit where the walls start to close in on them, slowly crushing them.

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 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.

OK for this age group

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • Some drinking and smoking of various substances at Mos Eisley Airport.

Coarse language

Mild, such as "hell" and "damn"

In a nutshell

Star Wars Episode IV: A new hope is a classic science fiction movie. Although the graphics are not as good as today’s standards, it is still an exciting adventure story that older children will thoroughly enjoy.

The main messages from this movie are that good triumphs over evil and that you have to fight for what you believe in.

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

  • collaboration
  • courage
  • selflessness
  • standing up for what’s right
  • tolerance of differences.
  • a strong female lead character

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Are there times when using physical force is justified eg in self-defence?

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