Australian Council on Children and the Media

Suffragette

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Not recommended under 15 due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Suffragette
  • a review of Suffragette completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 December 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

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: Suffragette
Classification: M

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Suffragette is set at the turn of the 20th Century and is based on historical events involving the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) that campaigned for women to get the vote. It was a grim time for women who not only had no right to vote, but also no right to own property once they married, or to their own children. The film focuses on one woman, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), who lives with her husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw) and their son George (Adam Michael Dodd).

Maud has worked in a laundry since the age of 7, part-time at first then full time when she turned 12. She admires fellow worker Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) who is an advocate for WSPU. Maud attends her first meeting and is arrested and sent to gaol along with several other women. Once released, Maud is forbidden by Sonny to attend any more meetings but she goes anyway. When the women realise that peaceful protests aren’t achieving anything they turn to more militant activities such as blowing up post boxes and bombing a politician’s house.

Maud is arrested again and this time goes on a hunger strike in prison. She is force-fed by the prison guards but remains defiant. When she returns home, Sonny throws her out of the house and forbids her to see George. Maud also loses her job and ends up living in a church. She is helped and encouraged by her friends Violet, Edith (Helena Bonham Carter) and Emily Davison (Natalie Press). The women all draw great inspiration from Emmaline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) who famously tells them to ‘never give up, never stop fighting’.

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.

Activism; militant protest; rights of women; abandonment of a child; child abuse

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:

  • Violet throws stones at shop windows, smashing them.
  • A man is knocked down in a crush.
  • Maud enters her boss, Norman Taylor's office and finds him having sex with Violet’s daughter Maggie, who is about 12. Not a lot is shown, but what is happening is obvious.
  • Women at a protest are punched and kicked by a brutal police force.
  • Women are forcibly undressed in prison.
  • Taylor starts to molest Maud and she presses an iron she’s holding onto his hand.
  • Maud blows up letterboxes.
  • Maud attacks Sonny for giving George up for adoption.
  • Several women throw a bomb into a politician’s house, which then explodes.
  • In prison, Maud is forced into a chair, restrained and force fed with tubes down her throat. They pour food in through a funnel while guards hold her down.
  • Emily Davison throws herself in front of a horse at the races, killing herself and injuring a rider.

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:

  • A horse rears up during a riot, making a loud noise, and nearly tramples on someone.

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:

  • Women at the protest are shown with cuts on their hands and faces bleeding.
  • Maud is forbidden to see George so she often tries to see him when he’s on his own and cries when she has to leave him.
  • George and Maud are both crying and very emotional when Sonny gives him up to his new adoptive parents.

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.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Violet is shown with bruises and black eyes following a beating.
  • Taylor tells Maud that Maggie reminds her of herself at that age.
  • Maud is unrepentant about hurting Taylor saying ‘he got what he deserved for what he did to her for years’

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 could be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The references to Taylor sexually abusing Maggie and Maud are clear and disturbing

Nudity and sexual activity

There is a rear shot of a nude woman when she is stripped in the prison.

Use of substances

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

  • Several characters smoke, including Maud and Violet.
  • drinking at the races

Coarse language

Use of the word "fucking"

In a nutshell

Suffragette is an historical drama based on events at the turn of the 20th century. It is important for older teens to know the story of the struggle that women went through in order to gain the same rights as men - the movie mentions that over 1000 British women were imprisoned during this time. However, due to the brutal nature of some of these events and scenes involving abuse of children, the film is more suited to a mature audience and is not recommended for viewers under 15.

The main message from this movie is to stand up for what you believe in and never give up, no matter what the cost.

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

  • The importance of equal rights for women.
  • The struggle to obtain those rights and the need to value them highly.

Issues that parents may also wish to discuss include:

  • Are there better ways to gain changes in the law than by ‘civil disobedience’?
  • Why do some countries still refuse to give women equal rights?

 

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