Arctic Tale

  • Review Date: December 2, 2007
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Kid-friendly film serves up inconvenient truth.
  • Review Date: December 2, 2007
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

It's a Darwinian world, where the strong prey on the weak and the weak sometimes don't survive. The animals, not surprisingly, act like animals. The subtext is that humans have disturbed their habitat, though the viewer doesn't see any people actually engaged in destructive behavior.

Violence & scariness

Surprisingly disturbing moments when a male polar bear stalks, and catches, his prey. Some close-ups of animals feasting on bloody carcasses.

Sexy stuff

Animals perpetuate their species, but not in close-ups.


Clean. Fun and un-stuffy for a documentary, as in "That's how they roll."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that though this film is basically kid-friendly and introduces kids to the idea of environmentalism with a light, engaging touch, there are parts that may be disturbing, especially for kids six and under. For example, a male polar bear nearly captures (and eats) one of the cuddly baby bears with which viewers may identify. In another scene, while trying to save Seela the walrus from a predator, her sweet "aunt" dies and her carcass is eaten in full view.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

ARCTIC TALE (from husband-and-wife filmmakers Sarah Robertson and Adam Ravetch) documents the lives of Arctic creatures at a time when their habitat is increasingly endangered. (It's not a strict documentary, as a fictionalized narrative has been attached to the visuals.) By focusing on Nanu, a polar bear, and Seela, a walrus, Robertson and Ravetch have made the doom-and-gloom global warming discussion that much more approachable for children. It's equally potent for grown-ups, too: The inconvenient truth is made more inconvenient by seeing how it affects Arctic wildlife.

Is it any good?


By now, few remain unaware of Al Gore's inconvenient truth: that the planet, as we know it, is threatened and suffering, a distressing situation partly caused by the choices we make and the way we live. But how to drive home that message to young kids? By telling a story, and telling it well.

In many ways, it's great not to be hammered over the head with this lesson -- we've heard it a lot lately. (It also helps that the movie's decidedly laid-back; in once scene where walruses are described as a tight bunch, the song "We Are Family" comes on loudly.) But ARCTIC TALE may be a little too subtle for young kids to truly learn. Older kids, though, will get the hint, especially when the credits roll and kids like them are shown onscreen doling out advice on how to make a difference.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how walruses and polar bears are like human beings. How do these families act like yours, and how are they different? Has the media ever depicted animal life in this way before? What about the changing Arctic environment? What is causing all the change? Is it unstoppable? How can humans help?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 25, 2007
DVD release date:December 4, 2007
Cast:Katrina Agate, Queen Latifah, Zain Ali
Director:Sarah Robertson
Studio:National Geographic
Topics:Science and nature, Wild animals
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Arctic Tale was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old December 12, 2009

a good film with some peril

this film is good but there is some peril in it that younger kids six and under may find scary or mildly disturbing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byclairemaxmom April 21, 2012

the site's review forgot about the part where they leave behind the baby

I think the review by this site was appropriate, because it lets parents know that the polar bears do some things that are disturbing. But it left out the scene where the mom bear LEAVES BEHIND her baby, presumably to die. This was too much for my 7 year old, and almost too much for me!
Teen, 14 years old Written byForever2121 November 9, 2009
I a fourteen year old have just seen this movie and i just think it is brilliant it shows the effects of global warming and how it affects such magnificent creatures.
What other families should know
Educational value


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