Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) receives an invitation from his friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) to attend the Quidditch World Cup, which is being contested by Ireland and Bulgaria. The match ends in chaos when dark wizards appear, destroying everything in sight and placing the ‘dark mark’ of Voldemort, a huge skull, high up in the sky. Ron, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Harry are still trying to unravel the events when they return to school for the start of the new year.
When they return to their school Hogwarts, they are greeted with the news that the school is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, an event which hasn’t taken place in over 100 years. The Tournament is a challenging and dangerous event, traditionally contested by three students, one representing each of the world’s wizarding schools – Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The three students are chosen by the Goblet of Fire, which spits out their names, with Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) chosen to represent Hogwarts. On this occasion, the Goblet of Fire chooses an additional fourth contestant – Harry Potter. Harry has to compete against students much older than himself, fighting fire breathing dragons, rescuing his friends from the bottom of the Black Lake and finding his way through a maze, which is intent on strangling all contestants.
As he defeats each obstacle, he unknowingly falls further into the trap set by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who plans to capture him and use his blood to be reborn in human form.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Moderate dark themes; moderate fantasy violence
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
There are several violent scenes in this movie, mostly performed by magic. For example:
- A caretaker is struck down by a flash of light.
- Harry’s first task in the Triwizard Tournament is to collect a golden egg, which is being protected by a dragon. The scene between Harry and the dragon is very well done, but quite violent. The dragon repeatedly breathes fire on Harry and attacks him. Harry ends up with blood on his face and quite bruised.
- Harry is attacked by strange and vicious underwater creatures.
- Diggory, the other Hogwarts competitor, is killed by Wormtail (Timothy Spall), a Voldemort supporter.
- Wormtail cuts off his own hand and lowers it into a cauldron where Voldemort, a shrivelled baby-like creature, is waiting to be trasformed into human form. Wormtail then cuts Harry’s arm with a long knife, collects his blood and puts it into the cauldron.
- Voldemort presses on Harry’s scar, making Harry scream and writhe in pain.
- Voldemort and Harry duel with their wands.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes described above, there are many other scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age. For example:
- In a dream, Harry sees a huge snake crawl through a graveyard littered with skulls and ghouls, into an old creaky house and up some stairs. The snake talks to some men, while eerie music plays.
- A caretaker walks through the old house with his torch but is discovered by the men and disposed of in a flash of light.
- Harry and his friends are flung spinning through the air by a ‘portkey’ and crash-land on hard ground.
- Dark wizards come into the camp at the World Cup, destroying the tent city and putting the ‘dark mark’ of Voldemort, a skull, into the sky. In the chaos, Harry is trampled on.
- Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) is very scary looking. He has an artificial eye, which follows people around, a badly scarred face and an artificial leg that he removes.
- Moody makes a spider grow very large and crawl over the students in the classroom.
- Moody transforms Malfoy (Tom Felton) into a ferret.
- Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) appears to Harry as a face in the fire.
- Fire-breathing dragons appear huge and fierce.
- A ghost called Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) appears to Harry while he’s taking a bath.
- Harry has to swim to the bottom of Black Lake, which is full of nasty creatures that attack him. He grows gills and has webbed feet and hands.
- While swimming in the Black Lake, the other competitors develop fish-like faces, and one changes from being the head of a shark back into youth.
- At the bottom of the lake, Harry finds four people, including Ron and Hermione, suspended in the water. Their eyes are open and they look like they’re dead. It is not until they are rescued and come up to the surface that they take a breath and you realise they are alive. After Harry has released Ron and another contestant’s young sister, and they are on their way back to the surface, the sea creatures drag Harry back down towards the bottom of the lake.
- The maze closes in on the contestants. It traps them with vines and appears to suck them underground.
- Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), the contestant for Beauxbatons, screams and collapses. Then she seems to be swallowed up by the maze.
- Wormtail carries body parts of Voldemort in a bundle, which he throws into a cauldron.
- Voldemort transforms from a shrivelled baby-like creature, into a large embryo and then into a fully grown man with a skull face, evil eyes and no nose.
- Harry’s parents appear to him as ghosts to encourage him.
- Moody’s body has been taken over by Barty Crouch Junior, an evil Voldemort supporter. Moody is shown transforming into Crouch.
Although children in this age group will understand that the magic and wizardry are fictitious, children in this age group could still be disturbed by the scenes described above. There are also other themes that could concern children in this age group. For example:
- The movie suggests that you could be responsible for the death of valued friends or family if you don’t succeed at a task within a strict time limit. This is suggested during the underwater section of the contest and could be worrying to some children.
- Harry experiences searing pain when Voldemort presses on his scar.
- The murder of Diggory is very emotional. Immediately after Diggory has died, his spirit asks Harry to take his body back to his father. When Harry returns with the body, the father cries with grief.
- The sorrow and grief around Diggory's death, and Harry's role in witnessing the death and bringing the body back, are left unresolved.
Adolescents in this age group could be concerned by the death of Diggory, particularly the unresolved grief. This could also disturb some young adolescents.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Mad Eye Moody is constantly drinking from a hip flask.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains infrequent mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a visually stunning and excellent story, full of witchcraft, wizardry and magic. Many adolescents will enjoy this movie, with the special effects, and deftly handled clumsy teenage romances. Because of its overall sense of brooding darkness and the very dramatic and dark climax, this movie is not recommended for young or sensitive children.
You may want to discuss with your child a major moral dilemma in this movie: while Harry appears to have done the right thing sacrificing his win of the tournament to help his competitor, he in fact causes his competitor’s death by doing so. You could also talk about the use of violence as a means of solving conflict and about the values in this movie, including self-sacrifice, gender equality and courage. Also, be prepared for questions about what happens when good doesn’t appear to triumph over evil.