Australian Council on Children and the Media

Nightingale, The

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Recommended for children 10 and over (In Chinese with English subtitles; of more interest to older children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Nightingale, The
  • a review of Nightingale, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 June 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Parental guidance recommended due to film being in Chinese with English subtitles. Also the story is likely to be of more interest to older children
Children 10 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.

Name of movie: Nightingale, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Nightingale is a French and Chinese co-production with English subtitles. It follows the story of a young girl named Ren Xing (Xin Yi Yang). When her workaholic parents go away on a lengthy trip, Ren Xing is left in the care of her previously estranged grandfather Zhi Gen Zhu (Baotian Li). Zhi is a widower living in a small and modest apartment in Beijing. Ren Xing’s father initially expresses great concern over the arrangement, as Zhi had momentarily lost Xing in a crowded marketplace several years earlier.

Ren’s grandfather Zhi wishes to return to his hometown in the country, taking her along with him. Ren is initially presented as a spoilt and selfish child who does not wish to part with the comforts of modern living. On their journey, the two carry Zhi’s pet nightingale with them in a beautiful cage. Despite her negative feelings towards the trip, Ren eventually begins to warm to her grandfather after the two become lost one night in a forest. As their bond deepens, Ren finds herself wanting to stay with her grandfather because of the freedom she feels when living with him.


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.

Family relationships; consumerism

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

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 may be concerned about the following:

  • Ren is placed in the care of her grandfather when her parents go away on a business trip
  • Ren and Zhi talk about her grandmother having died

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

Product placement

Apple products

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 Nightingale is a heart-warming story that takes place against the stunning backdrop of Guangxi in south-western China. It tells the story of Ren, a young girl who has been brought up in a highly consumerist society. She is used to living in comfort, and is quickly bored and needs constant stimulation via technology. The movie highlights the struggle she faces when her comforts are taken away, but also explores the rewarding nature of a life that is lived more simply. The film explores not only generational differences between Ren and her grandfather, but also a difference in values, goals and life experiences. Ultimately, the film shows that the freedom obtained in the peaceful countryside of Guangxi has far more to offer Ren than the fast-pace lifestyle she had been living before.

Children aged 10 and over are most likely to understand the themes and appreciate the story. Younger children are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in the film, but because it is in Chinese with English subtitles, it is best suited to children who can read well.

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

  • The importance of being open to trying new things and exploring new places
  • Not judging people before you get to know them, and always giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  • Having sensitivity and compassion towards the situation of others.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the impact of technology in our modern consumerist society, and how it can influence the health and wellbeing of individuals.

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