Australian Council on Children and the Media

Summerland

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Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 13 (adult themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Summerland
  • a review of Summerland completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 January 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to adult themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 12–13 Parental guidance due to adult themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group. Though some scenes may warrant discussion.

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: Summerland
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set during WW11, Alice Lamb (Gemma Arterton) lives a reclusive life on the clifftops of Dover. She is researching folklore and mythology, in particular, a place called Summerland, which is a ghost island where pagans believe those who die go to. As a single woman, Alice is ostracised by the local villagers and children, who think she is a witch.

Alice's solitary life is thrown into disarray when a ministry official arrives on her doorstep with a child called Frank (Lucas Bond), an evacuee from London. Alice at first refuses to accept the boy but is persuaded to keep him at least for a week until alternative arrangements can be made. Alice is very aloof with Frank, who attends the local school and befriends a girl called Edie (Dixie Egerickx), an evacuee like him. As the week passes, Alice and Frank become friends with Frank patiently waiting for any attention he can get.

Alice decides to let Frank stay with her and over time Frank manages to prise out of Alice why she lives alone. It seems she once had a love of her life named Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who ended their relationship in order to have a family of her own. It was also very difficult to maintain a same-sex relationship at the time and Vera didn't want to spend her life hiding who she was. This left Alice broken-hearted and an embittered woman. With Frank entering into her life, Alice discovers some joy and pleasure. She also discovers much more than she thought she ever would.

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.

Same-sex relationships; War; Death of a parent; Mythology and Folklore.

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:

  • Children vandalise Alice's letter box by putting rubbish in it.
  • Alice gets into some verbal arguments with people.
  • Children call Alice a witch and a Nazi.
  • Local boys chase Frank and knock him over. He has blood on his knee. They tell Frank that Alice is a Nazi and that she'll kill him in his bed.
  • Bombs are dropped on London.

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:

  • Images of war-torn London.

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:

  • Edie's Mum had died, leaving her an orphan.
  • At one point, Alice drives off and leaves Frank alone on the beach because she's angry with him. When she returns she can't find him for a while.
  • Edie cuts her foot quite badly and it is seen bleeding.

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:

  • Edie tells Frank that Alice is a Nazi and Nazis, “make you a slave, work you till you're all bones and then do sex things to you. They won't find your body”.
  • Frank's father is killed in battle. Frank is distraught by this and runs away to London to find his mother.
  • London is seen as just having been bombed with armed soldiers everywhere, ambulances and injured people on stretchers. Buildings have collapsed and are on fire.
  • Frank falls off a rock into the sea. Alice dives in to save him.
  • An air-raid siren goes off and Alice and Frank have to take shelter underground. They can hear bombs being dropped with very loud crashes – they are both quite scared.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that may warrant a discussion with children over the age of thirteen, including the following:

  • Alice tells Frank that, “life is not kind, anguish is inevitable, you might die, you might even think of killing yourself. Life is what you make it”.
  • Alice tells Frank that he shouldn't believe in Heaven, that it was just made up by the Christians. Before Christianity, pagans believed people went to Summerland when they died.
  • Frank asks Alice if her lady-friend was the one she loved. Alice says, “would you think it's strange if a woman loved another woman?” Frank says no. Alice cries and says that many people think it's wicked, it's a sin and you'll burn in Hell. Frank says it's better than marrying someone you argue with all the time. He asks her if she kissed her on the lips.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There are flashbacks to Alice's affair with Vera showing them at a party, dancing and holding hands.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Alice and Vera are shown in bed together fully clothed. They kiss.

Use of substances

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

  • Alice smokes often.
  • Drinking at parties and at home.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bugger off.
  • Oh Lord.
  • Name calling such as:
    • Stupid.
    • Witch.
    • Liar.

In a nutshell

Summerland is a drama set during WW11 about love, loss and grief. It is beautifully filmed and well scripted. It portrays how people who are different from others are often ostracised and feared for no reason. It is a very emotive film and quite intense at times. Due to the adult themes in the movie, it isn't suitable for under 12's and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 12 – 13 years old.

The main messages from this movie are that people who hold different views and opinions shouldn't be feared or excluded and that love is better than bitterness.

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

  • Tolerance
  • Inclusion
  • Patience
  • Kindness.

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

  • The different attitudes about same-sex relationships between then and now.
  • Why Alice was so bitter at the start of the movie. She seemed to be a rather unkind person when in fact she was just very sad.

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