Warning: Contains mild spoilers
We decided to take our daughter to the cinema on Sunday. This was only her second ever visit, the first being with me just before Christmas to see Paddington (U) which she half enjoyed. I say this because she wasn’t keen on the idea of Paddington getting stuffed, and more importantly she was fixated on the fact that Paddington’s parents were dead and then, his uncle dies and he gets sent to other side of world by his aunt. Forget the rest of the film, this is what my adopted daughter was most worried about. To be fair, she has a point. As adults we blithely dismiss this ‘backstory’ and just get on with the film, which we know will have a nice happy ending – with Paddington, for all intents and purposes, being adopted by the Browns. The film did, as a result, provide an opportunity to discuss trauma and loss with our daughter and how she felt about her own separation from her birth family, although as it turned out her concern was much more for the welfare of Paddington. She knew her birth parents were alive and well.
But, I digress – sort of. Big Hero 6
“BIG HERO 6 is an animated adventure about a young science genius who uses his friendship with a special robot to hunt down the man responsible for causing a devastating fire that threatened the city.”
We had seen the trailer for Big Hero 6, whilst at the Paddington screening and we both thought it looked fun. So, three adults and one five year old child set off to see it. The film is a PG, and according the BBFC this is because it contains “mild threat, scary scenes”. I think the BBFC got it spot on. This is certainly a Parental Guidance film. In the screening we were in there were children from around three to thirteen present and quite a few four and five year olds were immersed and fine and some others – ours included – were in a state of panic and fear. We took three time outs doing the film to allow our daughter to calm down and discuss what was happening and how the film would play-out: they’re superhero’s (like the one’s she did in school) and there would be a happy ending … and it does, eventually. As a result on each occasion she agreed to go back into the cinema rather than go home. Of course, most fear is irrational, so it actually doesn’t matter one jot if you know it’s all going to be fine in the end. This was the most scared I had seen my daughter in the time she has been with us.
Once again one of the things that concerned our daughter was where were Hiro’s parents. Again, they’re dead, and he lives with his aunt [ Oh, and Frozen … the parents die … I see a theme here I hadn’t really given much thought to, but dead parents and orphans are just bloody everywhere in children’s cinema. Really, sit down and think of some of your favourites and you’ll see]. Hiro then suffers another loss. So scary mini-bots, music, masks and dead family members combined to cause most of our daughter’s woes.
Basically, we got it wrong. As far as PG went, we failed. We cinematically ran before we could walk. Our daughter is still a newbie when it come to watching films, even at home. She has only just started to sit through an entire film. Also, the warning signs were there: She was afraid during Toy Story (original) and activity skips the ‘snow monster’ section of the now ubiquitous children’s favourite Frozen – and she knows how that ends. We let out own desire to see the film, as well as a trailer that only really highlights the ‘fun’ parts of the film lead us into thinking it was a good film choice for us as a family – it wasn’t. [ I should add here, that it is a wonderful film and I would love to see it again uninterrupted]
So, lesson learned and back to the drawing board we go, and back to a more gradual widening of her exposure to film, and one – for the moment – that has it’s foot firmly in the U certificate.