Story

Lassie is the loved family pet of a poor mining family, the Carracloughs, who live in a village in Yorkshire. The family consists of Mum (Samantha Morton), Dad (John Lynch) and their son Joe (Jonathan Mason) who is about eight years old. They have two dogs, Cricket and Lassie. While Joe is fond of Cricket, his real affection is for Lassie, who is his constant companion.

One day the mine is closed so Dad loses his job. The family is desperately short of money and much against their will, they have to sell Lassie to the Duke (Peter O’Toole). Lassie goes to live with the Duke and his granddaughter, but keeps escaping and going back to the Carracloughs. Finally she is transported to the Duke’s estate in Scotland. Here Hines (Steve Pemberton), the head kennel man, has a nasty temperament and makes life even harder for Lassie.

Lassie eventually escapes from the Duke’s estate and heads for home. For part of the journey, she is befriended by a gypsy dwarf and his dog Toots. Most of the journey is long and hard, and Lassie faces many obstacles and dangers on her journey.

Themes

Animal distress; cruelty to animals

Violence

  • Hines hits Lassie with a belt.
  • A farmer shoots at Lassie.
  • Two poachers attack the dwarf with big cudgel-like sticks. They also hit Lassie and the dwarf’s dog Toots.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • Joe is smacked on the hand by the teacher and is visibly upset by this.
  • Joe’s father goes off to the army and has to say goodbye to Joe and his mother.
  • A farmer throws a stone at Lassie.
  • The dwarf and the dogs are attacked and hit by two poachers with sticks.
  • Toots is hit very hard and killed by one of the poachers.
  • Lassie is so sick that the family believes she will die.

From 8-13

  • A fox is chased by dogs and horses during a hunt.
  • Hines threatens to force food down Lassie’s throat.
  • A council worker catches Lassie and tries to put her in a cage with a noose around her neck.

Over 13

Some children over 13 might find some scenes very emotional and sad.

Sexual references

None

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

None

Coarse language

This movie contains some very mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Lassie is based on a book by Eric Knight and set in England just before the start of the World War II. It is beautifully filmed, well acted and has funny and poignant moments. Both adults and children will enjoy this film. The only concern is that many children, irrespective of their age, could be upset by the theme of ill-treatment and aggression towards animals, and some of the more emotional moments of last goodbyes.

The movie demonstrates that, for a dog, the love of a family is more important than a fancy kennel or a nice bed. This is shown in Lassie’s long journey home against difficult odds, driven by loyalty and love for her family. You might like to talk with your child about some of the values in this movie, such as kindness, determination, caring, loyalty, freedom, tolerance, understanding and listening. You could also talk about your family values on the issue of cruelty to animals.