Australian Council on Children and the Media

Tales from Earthsea

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 (Violence, scary scenes, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Tales from Earthsea
  • a review of Tales from Earthsea completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 June 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes. Note: The film is in Japanese with subtitles.

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: Tales from Earthsea
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate animated violence
Length 115 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Arren, the son of the King of Enlad, flees the palace after committing a most heinous crime.  All around him the world is failing and two dragons fighting in the skies above bring with them the omen that the balance of the world is in danger of disintegrating.
Ged, the Archmage known as Sparrowhawk, is on a wandering quest to discover the cause of the peril when he meets with Arren in the desert two days walk from the city, Hort Town.  The city is a disheartening place full of merchant traders, drug addicts and a thriving slave market.  Through chivalrous efforts to save an orphan girl, Therru, from slavery, Arren meets her surrogate mother, Tenar.  Meanwhile, the party is being pursued by the wizard, Cob and his minion, Hare.  Arren himself has his own personal Shadow to contend with that haunts his dreams and waking moments alike.  Cob’s desire for eternal life becomes a greater need when he can use Arren and destroy Sparrowhawk in the process.

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.

Magic and sorcery, Child slavery, Separation from parental figures

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 violence in this movie including:

  • Dragons fight to the death in the opening scenes.
  • Arren stabs his father with a dagger killing him and leaving him in a pool of blood.
  • Therru is cornered by Hare and his guards.  She is rough-handled before she bites Hare’s finger.  Arren interjects by sword-fighting the guards, leaving them unconscious on the ground.
  • Arren is kicked awake by Hare and forcibly taken away into slavery.
  • The horses of the slave transports are repeatedly whipped into action.
  • Cob casts a painful spell on Hare’s heart before releasing him.
  • Tenar and Therru are grabbed by Hare and his guards.  Tenar is taken into custody whilst Therru is shackled to the gate post and left.
  • Sparrowhawk is bound by the guards and thrown headfirst down a flight of stairs into the dungeon with Tenar.
  • Arren engages in a sword fight with the guards.
  • Cob uses the same summoning spell on Arren’s heart to hurt him but Arren resists by drawing his sword and severing Cob’s left hand.
  • Cob strangles Therru.
  • Therru burns Cob to death.

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:

  • Scary visual images (nightmares, blood)
  • Monsters (dragons, wolves)
  • Physical transformations (friends morph into enemies, enemies morph into hideous creatures)
  • Depictions of the death of a parent (Arren murders his father)
  • Child abandonment and separation (children taken into slavery, Tenar taken away from Therru)
  • Children or animals hurt or threatened (child slavery, horse whipping, rough-handling of children)
  • Natural disasters (storm at sea, magical menacing storms)
  • Realistic threats and dangers (chased by wolves, child abuse, child slavery, abandonment and separation, physical abuse, drowning)
  • Violence or threat of violence (constant theme of particularly towards children)
  • Threats from the occult (sorcery, magic, transfiguration)

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 some of the scenes mentioned above.

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 are may also be scared or disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

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.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above

Product placement

None

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • A very effeminate Lord Cob strokes the drugged boy, Arren’s, face as he drifts into a hazy sleep.

Use of substances

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

  • A resident of Hort Town smokes a pipe of tobacco
  • A merchant attempts to give Arren a mood-enhancer called “Hazia” the effects of which are seen in a group of drugged townspeople huddled together in an alley.
  • Arren is given a drugged drink by Cob. This alters his allegiances and turns him against Sparrowhawk.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language in this movie, although there are some abusive insults including:

  • Fool
  • Old hags
  • Swine

In a nutshell

Tales from Earthsea is a fantasy animation based loosely on Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.  It is a Japanese film with English subtitles and has a strong anime feel to it as a result.

The main messages from this movie are that courage, a belief in yourself, friendship, and honour are important and that good always triumphs over evil.
Values that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include:

  • Bravery
  • Determination
  • Trust and loyalty
  • Friendship

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

  • Child slavery
  • Substance abuse
  • Occult
  • Violence

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