Story

Mr Pip is a drama set in Bougainville, where most people live in fear because of the civil war. Mr Tom Watts (Hugh Laurie) is the only white man left on the island.

The island’s school has been closed down for some time, but Mr Watts decides to reopen it and run classes himself, despite having no background in teaching. He begins to read Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations to the children, and a young girl named Matilda (Xzannjah) finds comfort in this famous story. She fantasises about living in 19th-century England as she falls in love with the novel’s main character, Pip.

One day Matilda innocently writes ‘Pip’ into the sand on the beach. Soldiers arrive and demand to know where the rebel leader Pip is hiding. Mr Watts and Matilda try to convince them that Pip is merely a fictional character, but the soldiers refuse to believe them. There are dire consequences for Matilda, her mother Dolores, and Mr Watts. 

Themes

Personal sacrifice; rape in war; life under military rule; the power of reading

Violence

Mr Pip has some violence. For example:

  • The movie is set during a civil war. Soldiers and military men with weapons frequently harass villagers.
  • When Mr Watts tells the soldiers that he is Mr Pip, he is shot twice in front of the villagers. His body falls to the ground, and there is blood and a wound visible on his chest.
  • After Mr Watts is shot, several soldiers drag away his body. They cut up his body with machetes and feed it to pigs (this is implied, not shown).
  • After Dolores stands up for Mr Watts and tells the soldiers that he was a good man, she is dragged away from the crowd. It’s implied that she is gang-raped. She appears quite bloody and beaten after this.
  • Dolores is taken by soldiers and hacked to death with machetes. This happens off screen, but there are screams and other sound effects.
  • Several men take away one of the young village boys to kill him. His mother is distraught and asks to go with him. A later scene shows both their bodies being buried.
  • After one of the raids by the soldiers, the villagers see a dog that has been killed and left on the street with its stomach cut open. A young boy cries as he sits near the dog.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Children in this age group will be scared by the violent scenes described above. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group will also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also very likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13

Younger children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above. 

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in Mr Pip, including the scenes showing threatened rape. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in Mr Pip, including scenes showing or implying rape. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

Mr Pip has some coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The touching story of Mr Pip highlights the strength of the human spirit.

Against very challenging odds Matilda remains steadfast in her belief that life will improve in the future. She doesn’t want to feel ashamed of her birthplace, but she also longs for a place that feels more safe and stable. Matilda’s mother Dolores believes that stories must teach you something, and Great Expectations ultimately teaches Matilda about choices, freedom and independence, as well as the importance of controlling your own fate.

Mr Pip raises some important issues to discuss with older teenagers, but the movie’s violence and disturbing themes make it unsuitable for younger teenagers and children.

You could talk with older children about:

  • the way that money and social standing have nothing to do with people’s conduct and how they present themselves
  • the effects of civil war and military oppression
  • the kind of loneliness that arises from being in a country where you don’t really belong
  • the emotional impact of the death of a parent or child
  • the importance of stories in helping people deal with trauma, shape behaviour and develop a personal sense of right and wrong.