Australian Council on Children and the Media

Victoria and Abdul

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Not recommended under 10; parental guidance 10 to 14 (lacks interest for young children, disturbing scenes, themes, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Victoria and Abdul
  • a review of Victoria and Abdul completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 September 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes, coarse language and lack of interest
Children 10 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Viewers 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: Victoria and Abdul
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 112 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film is based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, and on the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim.

Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria's (Judi Dench) golden jubilee.  He and a companion, Mohammed, are to present the Queen with a ceremonial coin. The Queen is instantly attracted to the handsome young clerk who, against the rules, makes eye contact with her.

Abdul is ordered to stay in Britain and promoted by the Queen to the role of her ‘munshee’ - advisor about India and language teacher. The two forge an unlikely but devoted friendship, giving Victoria a new zest for life. However, the members of the Royal Household, heir to the throne Prince Albert, the Prime Minister and others in official positions are horrified by what is happening and are determined to end the friendship.

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.

Colonialism and the British Empire; racism; the life of a monarch; ageing; sexually transmitted disease

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:

  • the doctor flies at Abdul and grabs him round the throat, beginning to choke him before being interrupted
  • Prince Albert threatens to have his mother declared insane
  • Victoria shouts  “treason, treason!” and angrily dashes objects off  her desk on to the floor
  • men burst into Abdul’s house, pushing his wife and mother-in-law out of the way and terrifying them, then seizing and burning letters and other materials linking him to the Queen

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.

  • Mohammed is shown looking ill and huddled in a blanket. He coughs blood into a handkerchief. After Mohammed dies, Abdul is seen crying at his burial.
  • The death of Victoria is sad and Abdul and others are seen upset and crying. Her body is shown lying in state and Abdul kisses her feet.
  • Abdul is distraught when his mementos from the Queen are being burnt. He is seen screaming and trying to grab things from the flames as his wife tries to pull him 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 may also be disturbed by some of 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

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • discussion of Abdul’s wife’s lack of children and request for the doctor to examine her “downstairs”
  • Abdul is described as being ‘riddled with the clap” and later the Queen is told he has gonorrhoea

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

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

  • drinking at state banquets

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “stick your shitty British Empire up your stinky royal bottom”
  • “Jesus Christ”; “crap”; “bloody hell”; “sodding mess”
  • racist talk about Abdul being Indian, Muslim and “coloured”

In a nutshell

Victoria and Abdul is an interesting and moving drama, with some lighter moments, based on a true story. It shows Queen Victoria at the end of her life, still grieving her husband Albert and servant John Brown, and feeling very much a prisoner in her life. She is surrounded by people who criticise her behind her back, but curry favour in her presence. The coming of a handsome, and very different, young man from India and the friendship that develops between them gives her life new meaning.

The film is most likely to be enjoyed by adults. The story is likely to lack interest for children under 10, there are scenes and themes that might confuse or scare younger viewers, and there is coarse language. Parental guidance is recommended for children aged 10 to 14.

The main message from this movie is that true friendship can develop between people of very different ages, race, religion and positions in life.

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

  • acceptance of difference and avoidance of racism
  • honesty

Parents may also wish to discuss:

  • the life of a monarch as shown in the film
  • colonialism and the British Empire
  • the Muslim religion and women wearing the burkha

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