A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Stands out for positive messages.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Small Axe is a superb British five-part TV series about London's West Indian community and deals with themes such as racism and police brutality and corruption. Set between the 1960s and 1980s, the series -- which stars the likes of John Boyega and Letitia Wright -- is written and directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, with each episode a standalone story. Despite the heavy themes, the series is also hopeful and celebrates Black British culture, remaining as relevant today as the time period it's set. There are many examples of racist language such as the term "wogs," as well as swearwords including variants of "f--k," "s--t," "whores," and "bastards." Racist graffiti depicts the "N" word and the racist slur "Paki." Some of the police brutality depicted is brutal, with characters being hit with batons and held and kicked on the floor. Characters are seen bruised, battered, and hospitalized as a result. There are also some instances of child abuse. In one scene, a young boy has urine-soaked bedsheets shoved into his mouth. There is also a sexual assault that results in someone holding a sharp instrument to the attacker's neck. Characters drink and smoke tobacco and pot. The effects range from merriment to aggression. As each episode is its own story, some episodes are more appropriate to younger viewers than others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SMALL AXE is a five-part anthology series by award-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen with each film telling a different story about London's West Indian community. Set between the late 1960s and mid-1980s, the series is a celebration of Black British culture, while dealing with serious issues such as racism and police corruption.
Is it any good?
Steve McQueen's Small Axe anthology series is powerful, beautiful, and above all relevant. The Oscar-winning filmmaker's five-part series shines a light on Black culture, opening a door to the lives of London's West Indian community during the the late 1960s and mid-1980s. A mix of real events and fictional storytelling, each episode sits as its own story. The result is an eclectic miniseries that is both a celebration and reminder of all that is good and bad in society. Serious topics such as racism and police corruption are depicted with their devastating impact laid bare for all to see. But there are also touching, gentler stories about first love, friendship, and family.
McQueen -- who also wrote the large part of the series -- is a master of his craft, with the cinematography worthy of a feature film. He manages to draw you in to a point where you feel part of the story. The cast is also made up of actors at the top of their game, including John Boyega, Letitia Wright, and Jack Lowden. Viewers will find something different from each episode -- some are hard-hitting, while others more subtle -- and will subsequently have their favorites. But collectively this superb series is television at its best.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the themes featured in Small Axe. Are they still relevant today? What messages do you think the series is trying to tell?
Talk about some of the violence depicted. Was it necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Discuss the language used in the movie. What did it contribute? Why does language matter?
How does the series celebrate community? Why is community important? Discuss your own community. Are you involved with it? If not, how could you be?
- Premiere date: November 20, 2020
- Cast: John Boyega, Letitia Wright, Micheal Ward
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism, History
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: Streaming
- Awards: Common Sense Selection, Golden Globe
- Last updated: March 1, 2021
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