Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Lion King

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Short takes

Not suitable under 6. Parental guidance to 9 due to themes and realistically animated violence between animal characters

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Lion King
  • a review of The Lion King completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 July 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to themes and realistically animated violence between animal characters
Children aged 6–9 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and realistically animated violence between animal characters
Children aged 10–13 Ok for this age group
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group but may find it slow

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: The Lion King
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

After the death of Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones), King of the pride and father of young Simba (voiced by JD McCrary), the underhanded and scheming Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor), brother of Mufasa, takes control of the pride with his gang of blood-thirsty hyenas (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, Eric André, and Florence Kasumba).  After Simba is driven out of the pride by his uncle, he runs into the friendly and hilarious warthog, Pumbaa (voiced by Seth Rogan), and meerkat, Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner).  The trio live together for many years before Simba’s childhood best friend Nala (voiced by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) arrives, pleading for the now grown-up Simba (voiced by Donald Glover), to return and overthrow Scar.  Despite feeling ashamed about playing a role in his father’s death, Simba agrees to return to challenge Scar and take up his role as the rightful king.

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.

Death of a parent; Children as victims; Murder

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:

  • Animals attack each other with claws and teeth – This is sometimes playful and sometimes aggressive and includes attacks to kill
  • Scar is defeated by Simba after a dark and tense fight on the edge of a cliff – The violence is made to appear justified

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:

  • Animals attacking and trying to kill each other – This sometimes includes frightening teeth gnashing which may distress very young viewers

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:

  • Baby Simba is trapped by stampeding wildebeests and nearly killed. While trying to save him, his father is killed – This distresses Simba greatly and may upset young children

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:

  • It is unlikely that any further scenes would disturb.

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.

  • Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Zazu the bird makes a passing reference to “two giraffes necking”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Nothing of concern

Use of substances

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

  • Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Nothing of concern

In a nutshell

The Lion King is a ‘live-action’ style animated remake of the 1994 classic of the same name.  While beautifully animated and with some fun new songs, this movie is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the original without the same sparkle.  The highly realistic violence and themes in this computer-animated version of The Lion King may be distressing for younger viewers. 

The main messages from this movie are about taking responsibility, being courageous even when things are difficult and getting support from your friends and family when you need it.

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

  • Bravery and courage
  • Duty and loyalty
  • Friendship

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

  • Understanding that wild animals are not tame and will not interact with people the way they interact with each other in the film

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