Australian Council on Children and the Media

Fox and the Child, The

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Short takes

PG to 10 (Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Fox and the Child, The
  • a review of Fox and the Child, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 July 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes
Children over the age of 10 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.

Name of movie: Fox and the Child, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: none
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Narrated by Kate Winslet, The Fox and The Child depicts the development of an unlikely friendship between a ten year old girl and a notoriously sly woodland creature. On her way to school one autumn morning the child (Bertille Noel-Bruneau) has a chance encounter with a fox. She is captivated and her subsequent search for the fox is the beginning of a very unusual and hard won friendship.
Winter approaches and the child has not given up looking for her fox, even though she has not been seen since their first encounter. With the first snow fall the child finds hope as animal tracks are evident all over the countryside. She quickly spots and follows some fox prints but must give up before tracking it down, as there are wolves prowling about. She scrambles away, trying to avoid being seen by the wolves and falls and breaks her leg. The child is laid up for the rest of the winter and can only imagine what her fox is experiencing out in the world of shadows and snow and stars.
The arrival of spring brings with it new challenges: the human community has launched a campaign to eradicate the local fox population. Many burrows are blocked up, poison and traps are laid and any fox can be shot on sight. The child’s leg is healed by spring and she is back outdoors searching for her fox as diligently as ever. Her determination is soon rewarded and she sees her fox, which she decides to call Lily, and Lily’s cubs. The child’s constant presence in the woods becomes familiar and soon Lily is leading the child on adventures and taking her to parts of the forest she has never seen before. They watch over one another and protect each other in their own ways, but ultimately the child is still a child and the fox is still a fox.

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.

The natural cycle of seasons, the balance of nature, unconventional friendships.

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:

  • There is talk of a campaign to kill the foxes.
  • A wildcat tries to attack Lily.
  • The fox kills some field mice and brings them to her cubs to eat.
  • One fox dies after eating poison.
  • One evening gun shots are heard echoing through the forest.
  • A man points a gun at Lily and fires (but he misses and she is fine).
  • A falcon tries to attack one of Lily’s cubs.

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:

  • The child gets lost in a cave and must find her way out. It is dark and she is scared. The forest is shadowy and eerie. There are cracking sounds in the underbrush, owls hooting in the trees and lots of glowing eyes peering out of the darkness. She hides and squeezes her eyes shut. When the moon fully rises she can see some of the animals and is reassured. The creepy sounds, shadows and glowing eyes may frighten young viewers.
  • The child invites the fox into her house and shows Lily her bedroom. She closes the door and Lily goes crazy trying to find a way out. The child thinks that she is playing a game, but Lily gets more and more distressed knocking things off shelves and shattering items as she leaps from wall to furniture to floor. Eventually Lily jumps out a closed window, shattering the glass and falling to the ground where she lies still and bloody. She appears dead and the child carries her limp body back to her den where her cubs come out to lick her matted fur and nuzzle her neck, to no avail. Later Lily is seen alive standing on the top of a ridge.
  • A wild cat chases Lily through the woods (twice). It howls and tries to pounce on her, often almost catching her. There is very suspenseful, dramatic music and when Lily escapes into a little hole you can see her quivering in fear as the wild cat tries to claw its way to reach her.
  • There is a scene in which the child tries to help the fox escape from a pack of wolves. She pops a paper bag and the wolves turn on her. She is clearly terrified and the wolves look surprised but menacing. There is a tense stand off while the fox scurries away. Then the child runs at the wolf pack and scares them away.

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 the above mentioned scenes.

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.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

The Fox and the Child is a documentary type film featuring a charming performance by Bertille Noel-Bruneau, some fascinating insights into the world of a fox and stunning cinematography. It is a film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, though younger children will probably have a lot of questions and teenagers who prefer action packed films may find this rather slow.
The main messages from this movie are that with enough patience and determination even unlikely friendships can be formed and also that some friendships are simply not meant to be.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • patience
  • determination
  • friendship
  • an appreciation for wildlife and the natural environment

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

  • breaking rules or knowingly doing something that is forbidden
  • interfering in the natural order and treating animals like humans
  • playing with fire
  • wandering around by yourself

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