So How DID Prince Caspian Get a PG Rating?!

May 17, 2008

Prince Caspian

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?

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The ratings system in Canada is different than the U.S., so I sometimes don't know the rating of a film stateside (it's PG in Ontario). I actually assumed the film was PG-13. I definitely could tell the violence was toned down to get a PG rating. The big thing I noticed is when someone is run-through with a sword, yet there is no blood on the sword. As for that beheading, you never see the head, just the helmet, lying on the ground (at least I saw no head).

Sean Kelly on May 17, 2008


im really glad u guys brought this up. pirates of the caribbean pretty much has the same style of violence as narnia but most likely it could be because of the cude humour in pirates. but any how it shoud have been pg-13 for both narnia flicks cause the violence was kinda strong for pg.

Darrin on May 17, 2008


I think the amount of blood shown in Caspian was the saving grace. Think of 300, how every swipe, spear, kick ended in a smattering or spray of red vino, where this has no spray of blood, but shows an actor with it on their face after the violence. And we hardly see swords ripping open a body. What's funny is the woman with two young children behind me actually said and repeated "this ain't PG, this ain't right, this ain't PG" after the massacre at the castle. We didn't see the arrows, the blood, but heard it with a partially blocked shot with a drawbridge going up. That, to her, wasn't PG, but the later battles with clear action shots was ok to her to sit through. In my opinion, this worked. Maybe we fill in the grusome details of the violence psychologically, a la the ear scene in Resevoir Dogs. The blood isn't there but we know it should be kinda thing. Kudos to Disney for making a movie with action that even kids can get excited about without it being like 300 AND getting through the MPAA with a PG rating. (Of course, maybe they rated it because it's source material falls inline with their beliefs)

Matt on May 17, 2008


Uncle Buck and the Back To The Future Trilogy were PG in 89, 85, 89, and 90 respectfully, and they had naughty language you will never find in today's PG films... fuck, 88's Spaceballs had a "fuck" and that was PG. However, on second thought, those films were anomaly's due to how exactly the MPAA were going to utilize the new PG-13 rating after 1986 (thus BTTF II & III, Buck, Spaceballs and Buck were PG mostly because of language)...

Ivan on May 17, 2008


Hey Star Wars has always been PG (sans Ep3) and they have hurdreds of deaths in many of the films and they're mostly human. Everything from beheading to getting cut in half to actually exploding. And if you say "oh well those films are older" remember in 1997 they were re-released and had to go to the ratings board again and they were still just as violent. When it comes to fantasy and science fiction you get a lot of leeway with your violence. A lot of people thought the last two Lord of the Rings movies should have been rated R. They're incredibly violent, dark films. That's another thing. Narnia's battles seem to happen during the day time and are bright and colorful. The first film only had a few shots at night time and they weren't that scary... well... when Aslan was getting killed it was pretty brutal. As far as Speed Racer goes I think it just comes down to Parents being overwhelmed with the film. That film isn't necessarily for kids as much as it is a fan film with a 100 million dollar budget. I can see Parents just thinking "This is too intense and I want to leave so i'm going to say it's too violent". Their kids would probably have to be 4 or 5 i'm guessing. Either way fantasy and sci-fi gets off pretty easy.

Kent on May 17, 2008


Many Narnian fans have read the books first. Therefore, they went into the show knowing that the film would be violent. Whereas, I know that when I have gone into fims not knowing what to expect I may believe that the film was too violent for the kids. This happened to us with The Spiderwick Chronicles. My seven year old was terrified and left the theater whereas she was fine with Prince Caspian (although she did close her eyes at the battle scenes) because she had read all of the Narnian books first.

Jenn on May 17, 2008


I actually thought Speed Racer was pushing the envelope with the PG because they said damn and Spritle flipped the bird to the bad guy, not because of any violence. Kids and adults alike gasped in the theater when he gave it to him.

Nettle on May 17, 2008


No one gasped at the Speed Racer flip-off in my theater, everyone was laughing. People need to lighten up. There was nothing PG-13/R worthy in Speed Racer or Prince Caspian.

Nicholas on May 17, 2008


Hmm, last time I checked PG stood for "parental guidance suggested". Having seen both Caspian and Speed Racer, I'd say both were hard PG's, but neither had anything that I would say requires the viewer to be older than 13 (PG-13 "parents strongly cautioned") If it's rated PG, there's a chance you might not want to let your kids watch it. If you're looking for kid-friendly movies, I believe you're looking for the G rating (for "general audiences"). Just because the vast majority of PG movies are kid-friendly does not mean all of them are. People need to read the fine print.

Peter on May 17, 2008


According to filmratings.com: A PG-rated motion picture should be investigated by parents before they let their younger children attend. The PG rating indicates, in the view of the Rating Board, that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, and parents should make that decision. The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated motion picture.

Sean Kelly on May 17, 2008


To comment on the beheading... I don't believe that you actually see the guy's head on the ground, just the helmet/mask combo. I remember being slightly shocked by that, and focusing on where his bloody skull should have sat, but seeing nothing in the helmet itself. While watching the battles, my friend leaned over and asked of this was a PG-13 film. I hadn't even payed attention to the rating going in, but thought that the violence alone could have bought that rating. She also mentioned that they might have given full face masks to the soldiers to further de-humanize anyone being killed. Does that hold water with anyone else?

Scott G on May 17, 2008


This has me thinking of the documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated". They have this whole thing about how the MPAA's ratings are super sensitive to sex and far more lenient with violence. It's a decent rental if you haven't watched it.

uzi on May 18, 2008


regarding this comment - "Kudos to Disney for making a movie with action that even kids can get excited about without it being like 300 " I havent actually seen this movie yet (altho I worked on it so I've seen a pre-release cut) but I really surprised people seem to think its ok for kids to watch films like this because there is no blood. It basically depics the same thing but without gore. If they had to see it I'd rather my kids see how horrible hitting someone across the face with a sword is rather than a fantasy version where they just fall over as if they've gone to sleep. Its the same as in Home Alone. He throws a brick of the roof at someones face. Does it crush their skull, showing the child its wrong and stupid to hit someone with a brick from 5 storeys up? No - he gets up and rubs his head. I ask you which is worse?

scotty on May 18, 2008


The thing with Speed Racer I think was that the violence was with guns and things in everyday life, while Narnia was more swashbuckling in a more out-there universe. I was quite surprised with the rating decision but I didn't think anything was extremely obscene. however this is definitley not for young kids yet there were a lot in my theater and none seemed to care.

Ryan on May 18, 2008


it's similar to the Indy films...they got PG's and had: nazi's, melting nazi's, child slavery, weird religious cult ceremonies, stabbings, shootings, crocodile munching, a head being sliced off etc etc.

chrisUK on May 18, 2008


Well chrisUK, while your opinion is valid, nazis are a group of people just like blacks, jews, and asians so it would be pretty bad if the MPAA rated the indy films based on the fact that there were nazis in it. Plus Indiana Jones was from a different time, before we really HAD the PG-13 rating. I was watching the movie Rock & Rule recently, which is from 83, and they use words like "shit" and "damn" every now and then and there's a lot of drug references and sexual innuendos and it had me wondering what it would be rated today because that one was just PG. On a side note, Poltergeist was rated PG. Think about THAT one!

Kail on May 18, 2008


The reason this movie got a PG is because it never feels the main characters are in any danger. Spoiler Alert: nobody dies and you know there will be always something to meraculously protect them.

Iron Man Fan on May 18, 2008


I think the phrase "Parental Guidance Suggested" sums it up very well. There is nothing in here that I would not take my kids to see. The only thing that I thought kids might not be able to handle (small children) was the scene with the old hag and the wer-wolf. In fact, a few of them gasped/cried during that part in the theater I was in. PG was a perfect rating for this film. Violence was not glorified. Doing what is right was...

Josh on May 18, 2008


It's funny someone would mention Indiana Jones, because it was the extreme violence in Temple of Doom (i.e. heart removal) that eventually lead to the creation of the PG-13 (and indeed both Last Crusade and Crystal Skull have that rating).

Sean Kelly on May 18, 2008


Coyo, please watch "The Invisible Kid". Plenty of boobies...PG. Aaahhhh...if only my mother knew...

Ronald, The Boy on May 18, 2008


Parents are really getting lazy about checking ratings for films. They just take their kids to whatever the advertisements tell them to see without checking the content of the film. That said, I didn't think "Speed racer" was too bad content-wise, and the cartoon style and overly bright colours make the lack of realism extremely apparent. I haven't seen "Prince Caspian" yet, but the clips I've seen look pretty intense for a PG rating. Since I'm in Canada, both films have a PG there as well, though I'm upset that "Speed Racer" gets a "not reccomended for young children" in its descriptor, but for Prince Caspian" they just say "violence". It doesn't really seem fair, especially considering that "Speed Racer" was made for kids and does a very good job of entertaining kids. And "Prince Caspian" has a beheading?! That's pretty hardcore for a PG.

Andrew on May 18, 2008


@ 13 You can't say that Home Alone and Caspian are in the same league. This is a serious movie, with violence, AND blood, but not gore. So which is worse? I do agree that Home Alone doesn't help a child develop ideas of right and wrong, and cartoony violence vs pain, but that's a comedy. Caspian isn't a comedy, and it makes the point that these children are in fact growing up, that violence is real and not cartoonish, and the whole problem is parents think because some board labeled it with the letters PG, it's ok. Like other posters have said, it means parents should decide if it is alright for THEIR child to see this movie. Too much complacency. You can't fault this movie for being too violent and only rated PG. Take a look at Robin Hood: Prince of Theives! Definitely deserving of a PG-13, if not an R. And for my definition of "kids," I took a group ranging from 12-15 to see this. Do I think 6-10 year olds should see this? No, but for the junior high set, they want action, they want something to cheer for, and they hear of 300, (some even want to see braveheart), but can't because it's too gory.

Matt on May 18, 2008


The language in speed racer could raise concern but the violence in narnia is direct compared to no one dying in speed racer

Matt N on May 18, 2008


Dude, this is America. Violence = A-OK! Sexuality in any form = BAD BAD BAD WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Konrad on May 18, 2008


I havent trusted the MPAA since I saw This Film is Not Yet Rated. I think there is a terrible and unbelievable amount of bias in the MPAA and it doesnt suprise me that a movie with a more obviously benign message is affected positively rating-wise than a movie with a more complex or actually useful message. Doesnt matter though. MPAA is full of biast idiots (I believe thats common knowledge now) and I could really care less what ratings Speed Racer or Prince Caspian get because Im not going to see neither of them either way. The main problem I have is all of the acclaim and leeway the Narnia series gets just because it is religious when in actuality it is a really uninspired Lord of the Rings, follow the book, children actor piece of shit.

Vega Bro on May 18, 2008


After reading what the MPAA actually gives as a description of PG, I'm not that suprised that Caspian received that rating. Watching the film however, I was pretty shocked. But really, it's all just a business, and if Disney thinks they'll get more at the box office by getting the film rated PG, and they know which strings to pull to do it, then they'll do it. What can we do.

Icarus on May 19, 2008


Ratings aren't going to change because people whine. Movie content isn't going to change because people whine. As parents we need to be fully informed about what our kids are watching so we can make informed decisions. What is taboo for my kids might be ok for yours. What will freak your kids out might not bother mine at all. We need to know our kids and we need to know about what they are watching. That is the only way to navigate through the movie industry and keep our kids safe. It's up to the parents.

Lee Anne on May 21, 2008


I would have to agree with this posting 100%. We just got back from the movie with our 7 year old. We are not prudes by any means but 2 and a half hours of non stop violence and slashings was a bit much even for me. In fact about halfway through it I was bored out of my mind, all violence and very little in the way of a storyline. I like a good movie and don't mind the violence, but just because I like films like LOTR and Kill Bill doesn't mean that I want my kid seeing them. The movie should have definitely been PG-13. Period. I can't think of any friends who would take their under 11-13 children to see this knowing the content. Most people rely on the ratings to get a feel for what the content is. I mean short of going to see a movie first hand before taking a child, this is the tool that the industry has and it seems they are not using it correctly.

Johnny on May 25, 2008


ScottG, yes, absolutely. I've read that the creators of the Prince Caspian movie did use the face masks to hide the Telmarine faces so they could obtain a PG rating. That said, Andrew Adamson - the director, said that originally PC was more violent and he watched it with some children and they found it too intense in parts, so he edited those parts out. Not having seen it, I can't say for sure how extreme it is but Prince Caspian gets a June 5 Australian release and is rated M (recommended for mature audiences) for: 'Frequent battle violence.'

Tintinrulz on May 28, 2008


lol yeah there was a loot of violence in that! tons of action. i don't know what to really say about the rating, though. I think I remember there was a lot of violence, but everything someone was actually killed or something, they didn't actually show it... like for the beheaded part, they didn't show the beheading and the head on the floor was covered by the mask right? So i don't know. but yeah, still a lot of violence. Speed Racer's violence was mostly all the car crash related things, if I remember correctly.. definitely dangerous too, but I agree that Prince Caspian had stronger violence.

Susana on Dec 11, 2008


Prince Caspian got a PG-13 rating because of the violence. Example: When Caspian gets his hand sliced in Aslan's How, when he stabbed a Telmarine in the final battle, when Peter and Caspian fight each other when they first meet, etc. I could go on and on, but what's the point? My point is that parents would be absolutely stupid to let their child who is under thirteen see this movie alone. There were too many scenes that could easily scare a child, especially when Peter slashes off the head of a Telmarine. There was not a lot of blood, but it was still a violent movie; much more so than the first film. As for Speed Racer, I never saw that movie, but I think it was probably dumb. Have you ever noticed how ALL the good movies these days are PG-13 because they all have violence? (The Chronicles of Narnia, Pirates of the Carribean, Spiderman, Harry Potter, etc.) Nobody wants to go to the other movies anymore. Everyone is pretty much into the action/adventure series. So, how DID Prince Caspian get a PG rating? One word: Violence. That's the one thing that makes a movie PG or PG-13.

Amber Watson on Dec 31, 2008


I came to this blog post because my 6 year old son is watching this movie with his dad in the other room right now, and I was curious to know if the film is as violent as it sounds. Good Lord, from the things I'm reading about here, I would never have allowed him to see it! Well, at least he's not watching it alone without any "parental guidance". Next time I'll be more vigilant. Our son loved the first Narnia film (although the ending made him cry) and really wanted to see this, but based on what I'm hearing and reading, I'd have said he had to wait until he's older. Sigh. I haven't even let him see Star Wars yet!

Jennifer on Aug 2, 2009



Rajarshi Hazra (INDIA) on Sep 30, 2009


Don't you people have anything better to do? Prince Caspian was the same blood and goreless action as the first movie. granted their is a little more this time, but it was still the same level of intensity. And to correct you of 2 things: 1) the head part is off screen and 2) What you see is a helmet on the ground, but no head. Oh and i don't consider two battle sceens in a 2 and a half hour movie non stop. please check your facts before criticizing this excellent movie again.

Josiah on Apr 7, 2010


Probably because it had zero nudity and sexual innuendo. The Simpsons Movie, despite the fact it was a family flick, notoriously got a PG-13 rating mainy due the nature of the jokes.

Jez on Apr 21, 2011

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