Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 10+
Epic musical story of Jews facing religious persecution.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film tackles numerous social and political issues within a religious context, including the concepts of interfaith marriages, gender roles, socialism, religious intolerance, and more. Smaller children may be spooked by the movie's portrayal of the violence of the Russian soldiers, and may also be frightened by the film's ending, in which the inhabitants of a small Jewish village are forced out of their homes by soldiers. Expect some celebratory drinking.
- Families can talk about the importance of religious traditions: are they stifling to individuality or do they provide a moral framework that imbues everyday life with meaning?
- Talk about parental authority. What happens when children flout their parents' wishes? Teens: How do you handle conflicts with your parents?
- What are the big messages of this film? How are the movie's messages relevant to today's cultural and political issues?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The inherent evil of religious persecution is portrayed and can easily be extended to include all bigotry toward minorities. As a counterpoint, the film shows the resilience and strength of the oppressed people, as well as the powerful family and community ties which helped them survive with unbreakable spirit. In addition, as the world rapidly evolves because of expanding communication, increased multiculturalism, and changing values, even the most precious traditions may be left behind.
Positive role models: Traditional old school family roles, with an all-powerful father, a submissive mother, and dutiful children, are examined in this film. In a loving, but dictatorial household, three teen daughters begin to demand the right to make decisions for themselves and follow their own hearts. Both parents learn to accept more limited control over their children and their future. Most, but not all of the Russian soldiers, are portrayed as brutal and bigoted. Most, but not all of the Jews in the village, accept their victimization.
What to watch for
Violence: There are a number of incidents which show religious persecution of the Jewish population in a small Russian village. A young girl is accosted and bullied by some teens. Soldiers on horseback threaten the residents, vandalize the town, disrupt a wedding, knock people down and destroy their belongings. Finally, all the Jews are expelled from the village; soldiers order them from their homes at sword point, dispersing crowds, and manhandling everyone. A comic, but scary, musical dream sequence conjures up ghostly presences which pop up from graves and float in the air. The dead return to life to frighten the living.
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: On several occasions alcoholic beverages are consumed either for religious ceremonial purposes or in celebration. In one festive sequence, the hero and many of his cronies get very drunk. He suffers a hangover the next day.