Children of Heaven

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Children of Heaven Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Excellent subtitled Iranian coming-of-age story.
  • PG
  • 1999
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In difficult times, families can pull together and overcome the problems they face. Perseverance and teamwork are also themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ali is a bright and sensitive third grader who does everything possible to make up for losing his sister's shoes.


A father and son suffer a minor bike accident after the father discovers the bike's brakes aren't working. A boy is shoved to the ground during a running competition.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Children of Heaven is a beautiful, Oscar-nominated Iranian film that's both a fascinating story of contemporary Iran and a universal coming-of-age tale. Because it's set in Iran, the characters speak Farsi, which makes this problematic for younger viewers, but for everyone else, Children of Heaven is a wonderful film about a family doing their best to pull together in spite of great financial difficulty. Some minor scuffles and accidents are the only minor concern.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJMFXB May 8, 2021
Adult Written bydas72 October 4, 2019

Needs a mature child to appreciate this ending

I never write reviews, but my 7-year-old daughter pressed me to write one for this movie. I first saw it as a young adult and loved it. I remembered that it was... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous March 26, 2018

Kids should see...

This is a really good movie. This might not be of interest level or maybe too intense for younger kids.
Teen, 16 years old Written byshakiba June 27, 2016
I think it can be a great choice for families to make their children more acknowledged about poverty and also the value of money.

What's the story?

In CHILDREN OF HEAVEN , after third grader Ali picks up his sister Zahra's shoes from the cobbler, they are mistakenly taken by a passerby while Ali is stopping off at a produce stand. Since they are the only pair of shoes Zahra owns and they both fear angering their father over this calamity, Ali must share his only pair and they trade off for each other's days at school. As Ali tries to make this arrangement work and as he and his family try and figure out ways to earn a living, there is an announcement at Ali's school about a running competition. Ali enrolls in the hopes of winning third prize: a new pair of shoes.

Is it any good?

This is an incredible coming-of-age film, a beautifully rendered encapsulation of the trials and suspense of childhood no matter where you live. It's a moving story about the universal bonds of family as well as the specific circumstances of a poor family trying to make ends meet in Iran. The climax of the film is exciting reinterpretation of the "comeback kid" sports movie, and it takes many unanticipated twists and turns.

This was the first Iranian film to earn an Academy Award nomination, and with good reason. The themes and characters are universal and the story is as exciting as it is poignant. Children of Heaven is one of those magical films that breaks down perceived barriers and differences between cultures, an enlightening and entertaining cinematic journey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how daily life in Iran is depicted in Children of Heaven. Knowing what you know about Iran through the news, what surprises you with the daily realities of these children, their parents, friends, neighbors?

  • What similarities and differences do you see in the Iranian schools these children attend compared to the schools you attend?

  • Aside from the poverty they must contend with and the cultural differences, how is the relationship between Ali and his sister Zahra similar to that of brothers and sisters everywhere?

  • How do the characters in Children of Heaven demonstrate perseverance and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Character Strengths

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