Films and Faith: Should my Child Watch This?


WHEN you become known as a fan of something, it quickly becomes a conversation starter for those who know you’re a film addict and blogger. Since I regularly organize the film club nights within my local church, some of my fellow parishioners usually fire me an array of cine-related queries on a regular basis.

Have you seen this? What did you think of that? Just two of the questions I’m usually asked; but more recently several parents have approached me and asked my opinion on certain films with 12A viewing certificates. Usually they want to know if I feel the film would be suitable for their son/daughter to watch.

Whilst I’m always flattered they feel I’m the right person to ask; it’s not an easily answered question.

If you are a reader from outside the UK let me explain. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) website states the 12A certificate means: “No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.”

Clear enough you may say, so why do I struggle?

The problem for me lies in giving an opinion on whether or not a particular young person would enjoy a 12A rated movie. Some of the content within several 12A films could be considered ‘top end’ and close to a 15 certificate.

A recent example is the Hunger Games, which when first classified by the BBFC was determined to be a 15 (i.e. no one younger than 15 may see the film in a cinema). However given the target audience for the film, recommended cuts were made in order to reduce the classification to a 12A. When released on DVD however some of the old footage was reintroduced (blood spatter, lingering shots of corpses etc.) and a 15 certificate granted.

So how do you gauge if a film is appropriate for your child? In the past I have likened the argument to spicy food…………Stay with me.

If you asked four people round a dinner table if a particular dish was spicy you may well receive four completely different answers. The thing is everyone has a differing tolerance for spicy food. Some can’t cope with more than a mild korma; but some love flaming hot dishes.

Likewise some young people will watch some ‘top end’ 12A films such as the Hunger Games and not be affected by anything they see. Others may not be able to cope at all with the violence and themes involved.

Ultimately it’s only really the parents themselves that can really judge the tolerance levels of their children; I’ve sat through many film screenings where a parent has had to leave the cinema early because their child has had an unexpected reaction to something they’ve seen onscreen. That’s why I steer clear of a yes/no answer and instead point parents to the excellent BBFC website; look up the specific film and see what the content is. They’ll hopefully be better equipped to determine if their child should watch the film or not.

No film critic or blogger should ever say if a young person should/can watch a particular film; nor can the BBFC. The only people capable of ascertaining the best answer to this question are those who know the young person the best, the parent.

Review by Neil Sedgewick @filmsandfaith
Review by Neil Sedgewick @filmsandfaith

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