True Spirit

image for True Spirit

Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 8 (scary scenes)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for True Spirit
  • a review of True Spirit completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 February 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to scary scenes.
Children aged 5–8 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes.
Children aged 9 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: True Spirit
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length: 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

True Spirit tells the story of Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft), who at 16 years of age, circumnavigated the globe, sailing alone, non-stop, and unaided. Jessica grew up on the Gold Coast of Queensland, in a family of four siblings, three girls and one boy. She spent a lot of her early life in and around the water and, from a very young age, dreamed of sailing around the world. Jessica trained with Ben Bryant (Cliff Curtis) who became her friend and mentor. With the support of Ben and her parents, Roger (Josh Lawson) and Julie (Anna Paquin), Jessica makes her plans to set sail.

On October the 18th, 2009 Jessica sets sail and spends the next 209 days at sea. She sails through the Pacific, across the equator, past Cape Horn in South America, across the Atlantic, past the Cape of Good Hope and through the Indian Ocean. During this time, she faces severe challenges with storms as well as calm weather, which she finds mentally challenging. At one point there is no wind for seven days and it is during this time that she feels most alone. Incredibly, she goes on to complete what she set out to do, becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world.


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.

Sailing; Adventure.

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:

  • Jessica encounters violent storms at sea, which toss her small boat about. On one occasion she falls and hits her head, rendering her unconscious for some time.
  • A further, particularly violent storm tips her boat upside down. The boat sinks below the water and Jessica is seen hanging upside down, tied to her bed.

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.

  • Nothing further noted for this age group.

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:

  • Jessica finds herself completely alone when she is left stranded for seven days. She cries a lot.
  • When Jessica’s boat sinks below the ocean, it’s reported back to the family who fear the worst. It is quite an emotional scene and all are in tears.

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.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple laptop.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Some drinking at home.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh my God
  • Bugger.

In a nutshell

True Spirit is an inspiring story about a young girl’s courage and determination to achieve what she had always dreamed of doing. The film follows the story of Jessica’s journey with flashbacks to her early childhood. The scenes of her little boat battling the huge waves are quite terrifying and the film is therefore best suited to families with children aged 9 and over.

The main messages from this movie are to follow your dreams and not be deterred by others’ scepticism.

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

  • Courage
  • Bravery
  • Importance of family
  • Support and encouragement.

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

  • Jessica suffered from dyslexia and always had a problem with learning how to read, however, this didn’t prevent her from achieving her goals. – This could be an opportunity to discuss with children that certain difficulties shouldn’t prevent you from achieving in other areas that you are good in.