First Fagin, The

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 due to lack of interest for younger children, violence and adult themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for First Fagin, The
  • a review of First Fagin, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 November 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, adult themes and lack of interest
Children 13-14 Parental guidance due to adult themes
Children 15 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: First Fagin, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language, mature themes and violence.
Length: 88 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the docu-drama The First Fagin, Australian filmmakers Helen Gaynor and Alan Rosenthal combine interviews and re-enactments to portray the story of one of England’s most infamous criminals. Isaac ‘Ikey’ Solomon (Ryk Goddard), who was purportedly the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ famous character of Fagin in Oliver Twist, was a thief whose life was defined by crime, adventure and love. Narrated by Miriam Margolyes, this film offers unique insight into the personal life of a legendary figure.


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.

Crime and punishment; the abuse of power; social stratification

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 limited violence in this movie, including:

  • The re-enactments and interviews are separated by snapshots of old images (e.g. paintings and sketches) depicting historical moments of social revolution, public hangings and graphic executions. These images are accompanied by background noises of gunshots, sword-clashes and various violent sounds, as the historians interviewed discuss the manner in which the rural population of England was breaking down at the time.
  • When Ikey is moved to Port Arthur, images and sketches of people being lashed with whips are presented and discussed.
  • Ann slaps and hits her husband Ikey, struggling against him physically as she cries that “they took away [her] children”. Ikey tries to restrain her.
  • Ms Newman slaps Ann after calling her a thief, and has her sent to the women’s prison simply for arguing with her.
  • At his daughter’s wedding, Ikey throws a drink in the face of Ann’s new lover and the two start physically brawling. The fight is quickly broken up.

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.

Children in this age group are most likely to be scared by the violent scenes mentioned above

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.

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

  • When women were charged and moved to Van Diemen’s Land, children were separated from their mothers, both as punishment and because the women were there to work.
  • They permitted Ann’s youngest to live with her while she was a convict, but her three older children were placed in an orphanage. 

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:

  • During a court proceeding, a judge is seen speaking to a young girl with very little kindness or empathy, saying “I have no compassion for you. You shall be taken from your place of confinement and you shall hang by the neck until you are dead.”

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.

No further scenes of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are a few sexual references in this movie, including:

  • When Ikey is talking about Charles Dickens, he mentions with disgust that his wife ran a brothel and that he had a dozen mistresses.
  • One of the interviewees states that the upper class led “very risqué lives” with “lots of scandal and sexual immorality”.
  • Ikey hears from fellow townspeople that Ann has been having an affair with another man who regularly visits her house. Upon her arrival, Ikey begins yelling “Whore! You whore” at a shocked and distressed Ann.
  • There are town rumours of Ikey’s daughter, Nancy, being involved in a sexual scandal also. The details are never described.

Nudity and sexual activity

Ikey and Ann kiss at various points throughout the film.

Use of substances

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

  • Men are seen drinking in a pub.
  • When talking about life in prison, Ikey says “all you could do was drink and gamble”.
  • In order to escape, Ikey organises for his gaolers’ drinks to be spiked with drugs. They fall unconscious and Ikey has a chance to run.
  • Ikey immediately begins drinking again after hearing that Ann may have been unfaithful.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Ikey describes Charles Dickens’ novel as “filth and lies”.
  • Ikey repeatedly calls Anne a “whore” in front of their children

In a nutshell

The First Fagin is a docu-drama about the life of Isaac ‘Ikey’ Solomon, a 19th Century criminal, as he travels from London to Gotham and eventually to the penal colony at Van Diemen’s Land. The film acts as an eye-opener for viewers, both in regard to the consequences of Ikey’s criminal actions and in relation to police actions and the general public’s response to him. Parents of younger children should note that the film contains violence, including images of executions, some coarse language and themes which make it more suited to older teens and adults.

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

  • The importance of acting in accordance with the law and not engaging in criminal activity, regardless of how small the act may seem.
  • Standing by your family, and doing your best to help them in every situation.
  • Fighting for what you believe is just and right.
  • Behaving with integrity and being honest with other people.

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

  • The consequences of criminal activity, which the film delves into quite deeply. Ikey’s life is forever affected by several choices he made, and they continue to have repercussions long after he had served his prison sentence and begun leading a life without crime.
  • The importance of fidelity, and the manner in which relationships can break down over the course of many years.