Story

I Am Heath Ledger is a feature-length documentary exploring the life of famous actor and artist Heath Ledger. The documentary features footage taken by Ledger himself, as well photographs he took and short films and music videos he produced. It also includes interviews with his friends, family and colleagues like Ben Mendelsohn, Naomi Watts, Ang Lee, Emile Hirsch, Ben Harper and others. There’s also behind-the-scenes footage from movies he starred in, as well as excerpts from the movies themselves.

Themes

Art and entertainment; love and friendship; mentor-ship; death; mental health; physical health; sexuality; risk-taking.

Violence

I Am Heath Ledger has some violence and references to violence. For example:

  • In some of the interviews, Heath Ledger’s friends refer to him as a ‘good fighter’.
  • There is behind-the-scenes footage of movies like The Patriot, which shows Ledger shooting rifles, and using swords and other weapons.
  • In an excerpt from Monster’s Ball, the actor Billy Bob Thornton smacks Ledger’s character across the head many times.
  • In an excerpt from The Dark Knight, Ledger plays the character of the Joker and puts a knife inside someone’s mouth in a threatening way.
  • In an excerpt from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Ledger plays a character who is hanging off the edge of a bridge with a noose tied around his neck.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Nothing of concern

From 5-8
I Am Heath Ledger includes references to Heath Ledger’s death, which might disturb or upset some younger viewers.

From 8-13
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the themes and visual images in I Am Heath Ledger.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

I Am Heath Ledger has some very mild sexual references. For example:

  • In an interview, one of Ledger’s friends says that they attended parties with a ‘bunch of half-naked people and dance music 24/7’.
  • There are references in some of the interviews to the homosexual romance between two characters in the movie Brokeback Mountain, which Ledger starred in. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

I Am Heath Ledger shows quite a lot of substance use. For example:

  • Photographs and video footage show Ledger smoking cigarettes.
  • Footage shows Ledger drinking alcohol, both by himself and at parties with others.
  • Scenes show bottles of whisky, and characters talk about whisky.
  • Photographs show bottles of beer at parties, and a voiceover says that the parties included ‘a bit of drinking and carrying on’.

Nudity and sexual activity

I Am Heath Ledger has minimal nudity. For example:

  • There are photographs of Ledger standing in the sun shirtless.
  • Excerpts from various movies show characters kissing. There are scenes from Ned Kelly (with Naomi Watts) and Brokeback Mountain (with Jake Gyllenhaal). 

Product placement

There is some product placement in I Am Heath Ledger. This includes references to other movies, video footage from movies and music videos, and the titles of movie production companies. 

Coarse language

I Am Heath Ledger has some coarse language, religious exclamations, insults and crude rap lyrics.

Ideas to discuss with your children

I Am Heath Ledger is a documentary that explores the life and work of the famous Australian actor.

This movie offers a snapshot of a unique man who was driven, passionate and generous. It highlights Ledger’s humanity, and normalises both his artistic skills and the crises of confidence he experienced at times. It also emphasises the importance of taking risks professionally as well as interpersonally, and the merits of trying new things. The movie shows the healing power of art in Ledger’s life at the same time as it explores his romantic relationships, marriage breakdown, embrace of fatherhood and career progression.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • the importance of living every moment to the fullest, and drawing something worthwhile out of every situation
  • the value in taking risks and pushing your personal boundaries to explore what might be possible
  • the idea that art, music and film can be healing for people and a valuable form of self-expression
  • the importance of understanding who you are as a person and knowing the personal values that you want to live by.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • masculinity and how being a man might help you be successful in the movie industry
  • sexuality and sexual orientation, and how homosexuality is presented in movies
  • mental and physical health issues.