Wolfwalkers

image for Wolfwalkers

Short takes

Not suitable under 7; parental guidance to 8 (scary scenes, violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Wolfwalkers
  • a review of Wolfwalkers completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 May 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not suitable due to scary scenes and violence.
Children aged 7–8 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and violence.
Children over the age of 8 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: Wolfwalkers
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes and animated violence, some scary scenes
Length: 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in 1650 in Kilkenny, Ireland, Wolfwalkers tells the story of a young girl, Robyn (voice of Honor Kneasfey), who moves from England to Ireland with her father, Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean). Robyn is disliked by the local children and villagers who are under the rule of the authoritarian, Lord Protector (Simon McBurney), and who are kept in the town by a large wall. The wall has been erected to keep the villagers safe from the wolves that are attacking the farmers’ sheep and crops. The farmland has continually encroached further into the forests, the wolves’ traditional home, and Bill’s job is to rid the forests of the wolves.

One day, while out looking for her pet falcon, Merlyn, Robyn meets Mehb (Eva Whittaker), a free-spirited wild child. Robyn soon discovers that Mehb is a wolfwalker, a person who turns into a wolf while asleep, and who has special healing powers. Mehb is waiting for her mother to return and Robyn is determined to help her find her. To do so, Robyn defies her father who has forbidden her to go outside of the walls. This leads to wonderful, new discoveries for Robyn and eventually also her father, who comes to find her, turning the hunter into the hunted.

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.

Supernatural; Mythology; Animal rights; Habitat destruction; Racial and societal differences; Authoritarian societies.

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:

  • A pack of wolves attacks a group of farmers. They surround one man and snap and snarl at him. All the farmers are terrified.
  • Soldiers frequently chase after wolves and shoot arrows at them.
  • Robyn practises shooting a picture of a wolf with a crossbow.
  • Children tease a boy who’s been put into a cage and treated as a wolf. They shout, “kill the wolf, hunt the wolf”.
  • Wolves attack the sheep and a farmer holds them off with a pitchfork. Robyn takes aim with her crossbow but accidentally wounds Merlyn instead.
  • A farmer is put into the stocks for mocking the Lord Protector.
  • Robyn gets caught in a wolf trap and hangs upside down from a tree.
  • Robyn fights with Mebh as a wolf.
  • As a wolf, Robyn is chased and shot at with arrows by soldiers, including her own father. The Lord Protector uses guns to shoot. Robyn falls from a roof into a river.
  • The soldiers set fire to the forest. The wolves again attack the soldiers who fire on them with guns and exploding canons.

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:

  • The wolves are scary creatures with large, sharp teeth and yellow eyes that glow in the dark.
  • The Lord Protector is a large, intimidating character.

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:

  • Wolfwalkers appear out of the forest and heal the injured farmer with supernatural powers.
  • Supernatural elements of the movie appear as glowing, yellow lights.
  • Merlyn appears to be dead.
  • The wolves come out of a cave and snarl at Robyn.
  • Robyn walks into the forest at night looking for Merlyn. The forest is scary looking, and Robyn is afraid. A wolf approaches Robyn and she goes to shoot it but Merlyn appears and prevents her from doing so.
  • Robyn enters a dark cave and yellow eyes appear. Wolves start howling.
  • While asleep, Robyn sees a glowing yellow path which she starts to follow but then wakes up quite shaken. This happens again the next night and this time she follows it and turns into a wolfwalker. As a wolf, Robyn escapes the town and runs into the forest. When she returns, she has to figure out how to re-enter her body. On other nights she is afraid of turning into a wolf and tries to stay awake. (this could be quite scary for children who might think this could happen to them).
  • The fact that Robyn’s own father shoots at her is disturbing. (Her father is remorseful, however, when he realises).
  • Mehb is seen crying over her Mother’s lifeless body (she is in wolf form).
  • Robyn and Mehb’s Mother appear to depart the earth in spirit form. Robyn appears lifeless in her father’s arms.

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:

  • Some younger children in this age group could be disturbed by 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.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • A couple of minor uses of words such as Jeepers and Jeezit.
  • Some name calling such as Idiot and Witch.

In a nutshell

Wolfwalkers is an animated movie that blends history and Irish mythology into a moving story about the fate of animals at the hands of humans. The contrast between the strict, rigid rule of law and the free-spirited course of nature is very evident. Likely to be enjoyed by families with children aged 9 and above. As the movie is quite intense and scary, it is unsuitable for young children under 7 and parental guidance is recommended for 7 – 8 year olds.

The main messages from this movie are to look after our environment and to care for the creatures that live in it.

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

  • Courage and bravery
  • Empathy
  • Overcoming differences
  • Tolerance
  • Standing up for victims of bullying
  • Following your heart.

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

  • Why did the local children dislike Robyn and her father?
  • Why is it that people are often suspicious of strangers and the unknown?
  • Are people who have been colonised justified in feeling vengeful towards the colonisers?