Cave of the Yellow Dog, The

image for Cave of the Yellow Dog, The

Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Distressing scenes. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cave of the Yellow Dog, The
  • a review of Cave of the Yellow Dog, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 October 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to distressing scenes.
Children aged 5-8 Not recommended due to distressing scenes and themes.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended.
Children over the age of 13 Should be ok to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Cave of the Yellow Dog, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length: 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Six-year-old Nansal (Nansal Batchuluun) has just returned to her family’s campsite for the summer after months away at school. After a warm reunion with her mother (Buyandulam Daramdadi), father (Batchuluun Urindorj), younger sister (Nansalmaa Batchuluun) and baby brother (Babbayar Batchuluun) she is off to collect dried dung for the fire, a task she has never done before. The rosy cheeked six- year old sets out into the wilderness and returns not with a basket full of dung but with an energetic young dog whom she found hiding in the back of a cave.

Determined to keep the dog, even if it means hiding him from her father, Nansal goes about her daily life, helping with the chores and looking after her siblings. When wolves kill a couple of the family’s sheep, her father journeys into town to sell their hides. Before he leaves he says that the dog must not be there when he returns. He is worried that if the pup was raised by, or was in some way associated with the wolves, then they would follow his trail and decimate their herd.

Nansal only sees goodness in the pup, which she calls Zochor (Spot), but must face the possibility of losing him rather than disobeying her father’s wishes.


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.

Death and reincarnation; Animal distress

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 predatory violence in this movie, listed in the following section.

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.

There are some scenes of predatory violence in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • a wolf kills a sheep. We don’t see the attack, but see the dead sheep.
  • Nansal’s father talks with two local, armed men about all the animals that are being killed by the wolves and what they can do to stop them.
  • a group of vultures are tearing the flesh off an animal carcass.

In addition to these scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • Nansal’s father is shown skinning a sheep. As he is peeling away the hide he must keep Zochor at bay, as the dog tries to lick the blood. He later carries the clearly recognizable, bloody, skinned sheep away. The animal’s head rolls and bobs grotesquely and there are a few close–up images of this process, including one of the lifeless eyes.
  • when Nansal hears strange noises coming from a cave she goes to investigate and in the shadows at the back of the cave are two glowing eyes. The image combined with the noises may be frightening to some very young children.

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

  • Nansal gets lost while looking for Zochor. Her mother, who is clearly worried, must leave her two youngest children at home on their own while she sets out to search for her daughter.
  • Although Nansal handles herself well while she is lost, she is clearly concerned about not being able to find her way back and is still away from home when a storm breaks out.
  • Nansal’s baby brother Babbayar is accidentally left behind by the family when they leave their summer camp. The mother is terribly distraught as she runs back toward the camp shouting and falls to her knees torn between trying to find her son and staying with her daughters. The father rides back to camp as fast as the horse can go but is very anxious about what he might find.
  • in the meantime, the lone baby teeters by the edge of a river and then approaches a group of ravenous vultures who are attacking a carcass. One of the vultures advances on Babbayar, apparently threatening him.

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.

There are no other scenes in this movie that would upset children of this age, but some of the scenes described above could be scary for some children at the younger end of this age group or for those susceptible to its themes.

Thirteen and overinfo

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.

It is unlikely that this film would scare or disturb children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some no nudity or sexual activity in this movie. However, there are a couple of occasions where quite innocent images of the children partially naked are shown.

Use of substances

None of concern.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The Cave of the Yellow Dog is a sub-titled documentary style film detailing the daily life of a nomadic, Mongolian family over one summer. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the unspoilt Mongolian wilderness and simply told, often from a child’s perspective, the film provides a unique view of a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. By nature the film will appeal to a more mature, thoughtful audience, but the film’s simplicity and child-centeredness will make it appealing to some younger viewers as well.

The main messages from this movie are respect for the earth and its creatures and especially respect for the cultures that share it. The film also demonstrates how there is great richness in simplicity.

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

  • helpfulness
  • obedience
  • responsibility
  • determination

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of being tolerant and appreciative of other people and their lifestyles. The film shows a completely different way of life and while it doesn’t explain all the customs, it shows their daily use in life and their importance to the people that practise them.