The Golden Seal
Family drama pits tween boy against adult greed.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Golden Seal is a surprisingly adult family story with some intense fight scenes and some dramatic episodes when the boy tearfully steps in front of hunters' rifles. The adults in the movie are greedy while the main child character stands up for what's right and teaches the adults to be more noble people. One scene includes a child repeating "s--t" several times.
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What's the Story?
Ten-year-old Eric lives on a remote Alaskan island with his parents and yearns for a dog to keep him company. Instead, he stumbles upon a mythical creature, the beautiful GOLDEN SEAL and her newborn pup, and is overjoyed to befriend the noble creature. Eric (Torquil Campball) has never been so happy as when he gets to frolic in the waves with the two beasts. And he has never been as dismayed as when he realizes that all the adults in the area, even his own father (Steve Railsback), are determined to hunt down the seal and claim a huge reward for its beautiful pelt.
Is It Any Good?
Though The Golden Seal has a happy ending, at its heart it's a sad tale. Young Eric lives alone with his parents on a remote Alaskan island, and while they're clearly a loving family, he yearns for companionship. Befriending the seal is the best thing he's ever done, the most fun and the most rewarding. So it's doubly tragic that not only must he drive the seal away to protect her, but Eric's relationship with his father is also changed irrevocably after he sees him give in to greed.
This is a film about a boy, but it's not just a film for kids. In fact, younger children may be confused about why the adults who seem so noble at the start of the film turn out to be not so nice at the end. It's an important lesson for kids to learn, but once they do, they start on the path that ultimately takes them out of childhood. The stunning Alaskan scenery makes this beautiful to watch, and though clunky dialog and stiff acting somewhat mars the film, it doesn't blunt its message.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about greed. Why do the adults try to hunt down the seal? Were you surprised by which people joined in to try and claim the huge reward? Why was Eric uninterested in the reward?
What do you think about the way the native Aleutians are portrayed? Do they seem realistic, like fully-fleshed out characters? Or, did they seem like cliched portrayals?
- In theaters: August 12, 1983
- On DVD or streaming: April 5, 2005
- Cast: Michael Beck, Penelope Milford, Steve Railsback, Torquil Campball
- Director: Frank Zuniga
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: February 3, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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