WALKABOUT | British Board of Film Classification
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Type of media Film

Approved Running time 100m 24s

Ratings Info Contains nudity, animal killing and infrequent strong language

Genre(s) Adventure, Drama

Director(s) Nicolas Roeg

Cast includes Jenny Agutter, Lucien John, David Gulpilil, John Meillon, Robert McDarra, John Illingsworth, Hilary Bamberger, Pete Carver, Barry Donnelly, Noeline Brown, Carlo Manchini

Cut This work was passed uncut.

  • Cinema release suitable for 12 years and over icon12A

Ratings info

Ratings info publication date 11/02/2011

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

WALKABOUT is a 1971 film adapted from the 1959 novel by James Vance Marshall. It tells the story of a schoolgirl and her younger brother, who are left stranded in the Australian outback after their father commits suicide. They then encounter an Aborigine boy who shows them how to survive. The film was originally classified 'AA' uncut for cinema release in 1971 (meaning no admission to persons under 14) and was subsequently classified '12' uncut for video release in 1998. This re-release of the film has been classified '12A' for nudity, animal killing and infrequent strong language.

The BBFC's Guidelines at '12A'/'12' state 'The use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent'. WALKABOUT contains two uses of strong language, neither of which are particularly clear.

The film also includes scenes of animal hunting and killing, most notably a sequence showing a kangaroo being hit with a spear and then being killed by bludgeoning. However, there is insufficient evidence on screen to conclude that the animal was subjected to cruelty. The apparent wound, seen after the spear bounces off the animal, could be simulated; there is no clear evidence of distress or suffering on the part of the animal; and the actual killing occurs below screen. Accordingly, the scene was not considered to be in breach of the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937. Nonetheless, the scenes of hunting might upset young children so are more appropriately classified at '12A'. Other scenes include a bison being shot in the head, seen in the distance, and sight of an animal's throat being cut. Although these scenes might be distressing for young children, they comprise quick, clean kills and are not in breach of the relevant legislation.

WALKABOUT also includes a number of scenes of full frontal nudity, including natural nudity on the part of the Aborigine boy and on the part of other Aborigine people seen in the film. These scenes would have been acceptable at 'PG' where the Guidelines state there may be 'Natural nudity, with no sexual context'. However, the film also includes some scenes in which the schoolgirl character is seen naked, both when swimming and when washing her clothes. Although this nudity is essentially natural and innocent in terms of the film's narrative, the surrounding context lends a mildly sexualised feel, given the developing sexual tension between the girl and the Aborigine boy. Towards the end of the film, the girl becomes more self-conscious about her nudity in the presence of the boy, given his increasing interest in her, and covers herself up. These scenes were therefore considered more appropriately placed at '12A', where the Guidelines state 'Nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context must be brief and discreet'. The actress playing the part of the schoolgirl is believed to have been 17 years old at the time of filming. The BBFC was therefore required to consider the scenes of nudity in terms of the Protection of Children Act 1978, which makes it illegal to produce, distribute or possess indecent images of people under 18. However, it was concluded that WALKABOUT contains no lewd or indecent images that are likely to be found in breach of the law, given their relative discretion, the lack of any accompanying sexual activity, and the relative age of the performer. On previous submissions to the BBFC, in 1971 and 1998, the age cited in the Protection of Children Act was 16 rather than 18 (the age bar was raised to 18 by the Sexual Offences Act 2003), so the issue of potential indecency had not be considered on previous occasions.

In addition, WALKABOUT includes a scene in which the children's father commits suicide by setting fire to his car and shooting himself in the head. Although we do not see the shooting, which occurs offscreen, we do see the man slump to the floor, as well as subsequent sight of his head with blood on it. At '12A'/'12', the Guidelines state 'Moderate violence is allowed but should not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context'. This brief scene is crucial in establishing the narrative but is relatively restrained in terms of detail and is therefore permissible at '12A'.

Parents can find additional information about the content of this film if they visit www.pbbfc.co.uk.


BFI Films
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100m 24s
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