A Far Off Place

 
(i)

 

African survival tale not for sensitive animal lovers.
  • Review Date: February 1, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Dealing with loss, respecting wildlife, and overcoming great odds to survive resonate here. There's not a big divide among Africans and white people here like in some other movies with similar themes; the main bad guys are white, some poachers are African, and the main protagonists are white but travel with an African whom they respect greatly.

Positive role models

Nonnie is a very strong teen girl character who has adapted so much to her African home that she carries a rifle to scare away predators and helps her father use dynamite to dig a well. Harry goes from eye-rolling, headphone-wearing teen boy to a hardy survivor who even tries to learn the native tongue. Their friend Xhabbo is a wonderful mentor to both of them, helping them deal with loss, come together in a crisis, and survive the desert.

Violence

Right off the bat viewers see elephants shot by poachers and tusks sawed off; a baby elephant survives and prods at the dead elephants around him. The poachers are then shot by the game warden. Nonnie sees her parents and Harry's dad after they are shot; one corpse is in bed and another is on the floor in a pool of blood. Dynamite explodes in a few scenes with some casualties. Nonnie, Harry, and Xhabbo run for their lives in the desert and are almost killed by gunfire. Their dog is attacked by a pack of dogs but survives. Xhabbo gets bitten by a scorpion.

Sex

One kiss.

Language

"Bulls--t" is said once. Plus one time each for "bastards," "damned," and "Goddamn it."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An adult smokes in one scene.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that sensitive animal lovers need to proceed with caution in the first scene where poachers kill elephants and saw off their tusks. More disturbing is the murder of the teen leads' parents -- a main character sees them after they are shot and dynamites the murderers' cars. As the main characters flee for their lives (and are shot at more than once) they learn to work together to survive and deal with their loss. Nonnie is a strong teen character girls will love.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Nonnie (Reese Witherspoon) lives with her parents in a remote part of Africa where poachers are tracked daily by her father and his friends. When she meets Harry (Ethan Embry), an eye-rolling American boy who'd rather be on a "real" vacation than dragged here by his father, she's prepared to ignore him. But that night he follows Nonnie on a nighttime stroll to meet her bushman friend Xhabbo (Sarel Bok). Xhabbo's had a "tapping" or vision and implores them both to stay the night hidden in a cave. They're awoken by explosions and Nonnie sneaks away to see poachers destroying the house -- and her parents and Harry's father already shot. Nonnie, Harry, and Xhabbo flee for their lives and Nonnie promises Harry they'll escape to the next town. Only, it turns out the next town is clear across the Kalahari desert.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

A FAR OFF PLACE has lots of potential, especially considering the source material (two books by Laurens van der Post). Reese Witherspoon's Nonnie is a great tough-girl character worth following through the desert and Harry is annoying at first as that stereotyped disaffected American teen but really comes around. The action scenes will keep viewers engaged.

But the movie doesn't come together as an epic adventure should. The bad guy is very one-note: very bad, and who knows why? To make lots of money off the ivory, sure, and those kids need to be shot at all costs. And some moments that should be poignant are cheesy instead -- the ending, for starters. And there are some details that needed ironing out. Like how long did they really go without water? Seems like days. And where the heck did Nonnie get a canteen? And how did the dog heal from a big fight in one day? Fans of adventure movies, especially those set in far off places, will still enjoy this one however.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adventure movies and far off places. What are your favorites? What makes this one thrilling? Does it make you want to visit Africa?

  • Families can also talk about the loss here -- of the characters' parents and of so many elephants that the bad guy stood to make millions for their tusks. How realistically do Nonnie and Harry deal with both?

  • Talk about Nonnie. Do you see this type of character often in movies? What makes her admirable, and not-so-admirable?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 12, 1993
DVD release date:June 1, 2004
Cast:Ethan Embry, Reese Witherspoon, Sarel Bok
Director:Mikael Salomon
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Adventures, Great girl role models, Wild animals
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for violence and mild language.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator Written by1585566 July 19, 2012
 

Good themes... some violence

The movie opens with a pretty graphic scene... elephants are slaughtered by gunfire and their tusks are removed. I would be careful around animal lovers. The parents of the children are killed early on in the movie. Now they don't show the process occurring, but they do show partial images of the parents' bodies. In the beginning, one of the characters says "bulls**t" Otherwise, there are a few other minor words (h*ll, d*mn.) There is a theme of perseverance throughout this entire movie, which is a great thing to talk about with your kids. The main characters are definite role models because they are strong, empathetic towards people of different cultures, and caring of the environment around them. I showed it to my students, ages 11-17 and they all really enjoyed it. It opens up much discussion about poaching, illegal trades, and people of different culture.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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