So How DID Prince Caspian Get a PG Rating?!
by Alex Billington
May 17, 2008
By the time I went in to see The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, I had already heard that it pushed the limits of the PG rating. Articles like this one on Cinematical had made me aware of the idea going in, but I really didn't know what to think of the situation until I had seen the movie. Now that I have, I need to chime in, too, and they're right - how DID this movie get a PG rating?! I understand that it's Disney and they probably have some extra emphasis within the MPAA, but this is still a bit baffling. Interestingly, I'm not one to argue issues with ratings at all, which is why it seems odd that I might be complaining, but don't get me wrong. I'm not actually complaining, I'm simply mentioning this as a question of violence in films and how it's perceived.
I remember going into Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer last summer thinking, how can this be rated PG and actually good? I walked out satisfied, but still not amazed at the movie. It was definitely a PG film that they cut down to make sure it stayed within the rating. Oddly, Prince Caspian is just the opposite. It's a PG film that they've pushed to PG-13 without actually getting that rating. I would definitely say that if I were shown Prince Caspian on its own without a rating, I would have thought it was PG-13, no question. Not only is there a guy actually beheaded, and you can see his head lying on the ground, but the violence in it is non-stop. How Disney pulled this off is beyond me!
I've heard stories recently where parents have walked out of Speed Racer, another PG film, complaining to theater managers that it was too violent for their children. I'm not familiar with the exact details (such as the age of their kids), however, I find it rather alarming that parents were concerned with the violence in Speed Racer, but have no problems with the violence in Prince Caspian. I've asked around and have not heard of any complaints from parents regarding Prince Caspian so far. Whether the religious aspect of the film nullifies any issues or whether the filmmakers' different styles emphasize violence in one way or another, I'm not sure, but it is definitely a comparison that should be made. Has anyone else noticed similarities between the violence in these two movies?
Whereas typically I might be able to ignore rating irregularities such as a beheading or occasional violence, the problem with Prince Caspian is that it's non-stop. In Speed Racer, you can pinpoint the exact violent scenes and even identify particular moments where they censored themselves in order to stay PG. For example, Speed and Trixie are dating, but they never physically interact or ever actually kiss until the very last scene. In Prince Caspian, they also follow a similar rule, and only one kiss is ever shared in the entire film near the end. However, considering most of Prince Caspian is about a time where swords ruled the world, fighting in some sense occurs throughout most of the film.
There are epic battles, one-on-one sword fights, and all sorts of creatures involved in harming other creatures. The entire film is about fighting to keep Narnia the way it was. Every last person carries a sword (or bow and arrow) and fights with it at some point. Even the cute little Lucy carries a small blade! But I guess ancient weaponry and fantasy-based battles aren't as realistic as guns and futuristic human-against-human fights. Really, my issue is that parents should not have as big of a problem with Speed Racer if they can easily watch Prince Caspian and not be concerned. Obviously arguing about the MPAA is not going to get me anywhere, but questioning the concerns of parents might.
Was anyone else out there put off by the amount of violence in Prince Caspian? I wasn't disturbed by it at all, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it even more because it felt PG-13, but it annoys me that Speed Racer is being targeted for being too violent when Prince Caspian is not! The MPAA does need a complete overhaul, but until that happens, the most we can do is bring this up for public discussion. How screwed up is the MPAA when violence goes so unnoticed in a family fantasy film?