Australian Council on Children and the Media

Walk, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 12; Parental guidance recommended 12-14 (Scary scenes, Substance use; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Walk, The
  • a review of Walk, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 October 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to scary scenes, substance use and coarse language
Children 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, substance use and coarse language
Children 14 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: Walk, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Walk (based upon true events) begins with Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon- Levitt) standing on top of the Statue of Liberty telling the audience, via a series of flashbacks, the story of what lead him to walk a high-wire between what were then the world’s two tallest buildings, the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre.

Through his story we learn that Philippe as a young boy snuck into the circus and was mesmerised by the circus’s highwire performers after which he went home set up his own tightrope in his backyard. A few years later, Philippe sneaks back into the circus to try walking a real highwire and is caught by highwire master Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley). After some fast talking and impromptu juggling Philippe manages to convince Papa Rudy to teach him the secrets of walking the wire. He begins to live as a street performer, riding a unicycle, juggling and walking a rope tied between trees.

One day Philippe reads a magazine article about the construction of the Twin Towers and immediately knows that it is his life’s dream to walk a highwire between these buildings.

Philippe, his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), photographer/archer Jean-Louis (Clement Sibony) and algebra teacher Jeff (Jean-Francois), who has a fear of heights, travel to New York for their first look at the Twin Towers. Further planning sees the date for his walk referred to as “The Coup” set for August the 6th 1974 and, after enlisting the aid of four American co-conspirators, Philippe’s plan is put into action.

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-defying and illegal stunts; risk taking; friendship and teamwork

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.

The film contains some violence. Examples include:

  • Several French police chase a street performer riding a monocycle through crowded city streets.
  • A man holding a shovel in a threatening manner chases a teenage boy until the boy falls over; the boy is uninjured.
  • Several scenes depict loud and heated arguments.
  • After enacting an illegal performance, a street performer is forced to the ground by police, handcuffed and taken away.
  • A man walks onto the roof of a tall building to two other men standing on the same rooftop. One of the men picks up a metal pipe and stares at the first man, who after a minute turns around and walks away. The friend of the man holding the pipe asks what he intended to do with it, at which point the man silently drops the pipe.

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:

  • There are a number of tense scenes of highwire walking, including some which involve falls and near falls. The scenes of the final walk are very tense.In his narration, Philippe talks about the possibility of falling to his death with only three steps to go.
  • On a construction site, Philippe steps on a nail which pierces his foot. He hops on one foot shouting in pain, and we see the tip of the nail sticking out of the top of his shoe and a small amount of blood. Later blood from this injury seeps through his highwire slipper while he is on the wire.
  • In one perilous scene two men straddle a pole suspended over a lift shaft hundreds of metres above the ground. We see an imagined image of one of the men falling off the pole and disappearing out of sight down the shaft.  

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 and find the last walk too intense

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.

Children in this age range may find the final thirty minutes of the film depicting the perilous wire walk between the Twin Towers too intense to watch.

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.

Some of the younger children in this age group may also find the scenes of the final walk too intense to watch.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

A man tells another man that he wanted to see him in his “birthday suit”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • A man and woman kiss passionately
  • One scene depicts a man and woman sleeping together in a bed. The man gets out of bed naked and we see his naked torso and upper buttock.
  • A naked man walks and jumps around on a rooftop. He is shown from a distance with obscured genitals.

Use of substances

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

  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Social drinking
  • Marijuana smoking
  • Reference to a sleeping guard possible being on drugs.    

Coarse language

The film contains some coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • What the hell; bastard; Christ sake; crapped my pants; son of a bitch; god damn; Christ; holly shit; Jesus; smart arse 
  • white devils; circus clowns; dirty thief; suckers; insane; crazy; coward; frog

In a nutshell

The Walk is an adventure drama, based on real events, which is aimed at adolescents and adults. The film is likely to be entertaining and highly enjoyable for this age group and the intense final thirty minutes are bound to have audiences on the edge of their seats. These final scenes may be too intense for younger viewers, and parents may be concerned about the film’s substance use and coarse language, so the film is not recommended for children under 12 with parental guidance recommended for the 12-14 age group.

The main message from this movie is that you should follow your dreams no matter how ridiculous, absurd or seemingly impossible.

Parents may wish to discuss the possible real life consequences of perilous and illegal risk taking adventures such as that undertaken by Philippe. What are the real life consequences of stunts that go wrong, and what impact may death or injuries have on the person and/or their loved ones?  

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