Burning parents guide

Burning Parent Guide

With raw, gripping footage of Australia's Black Summer, this is an unforgettable documentary about the costs of climate change.

Overall B+

Amazon Prime: This documentary looks at the massive Australian bushfires of 2019/2020.

Release date November 26, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity C
Substance Use A

Why is Burning rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Burning Not Rated

Run Time: 86 minutes

Parent Movie Review

When we remember 2020, most of us will probably recall the emergence of the novel coronavirus. What we might forget is a disaster that dominated the news before covid-19 turned our world upside down: Australia’s record breaking bushfires that engulfed the southern continent in flames.

That the summer of 2019/2020 would be a bad fire season came as no surprise to firefighters. The two previous years had set records for both heat and drought with plants across the country dying from environmental stress. An early start to the fire season and fast burning conflagrations let emergency responders know they were right to worry. When requests to the Prime Minister for help went unanswered, they buckled down to fight the fires as best they could.

What the firefighters also did not know was that no human skill could possibly defeat fires on the scale they were about to experience. By the end of the fire season, 59 million acres would burn, including 21% of Australian forests. Three billion animals would die and thousands of Australians would be evacuated or permanently uprooted as their homes incinerated. Over the months when fire raged uncontrolled over millions of acres, people would watch as day turned to night under the volume of soot, as massive fires created their own weather systems, including rain-less thunderstorms, and as smoke turned their skies red. They would confront questions about long term environmental damage and the price smoke took on the health of their residents, particularly pregnant women and the very young.

As Burning points out, the tragedy of Australia’s Black Summer is that it could have been prevented or mitigated. Australians have known for decades that their home, located at the confluence of three oceans and with a continental climate, is unusually vulnerable to climate change. Throughout this documentary, interviews with scientists, firefighters, journalists, and young activists make clear that a catastrophe of this magnitude was not inevitable.

Documentaries can often feel dry but Burning is emotionally draining to watch. There’s the frustration of watching politicians ignore warnings and deliberately undercut scientific research. There’s the pity for people who lose their homes. And there’s the horror of seeing the terrible cost to Australia’s wildlife. Scenes of koalas trying to escape from the fires are succeeded by clips of koalas crying in pain from their burns, a heart-rending sound that’s impossible to forget. It’s also wrenching to see charred kangaroo corpses lying on the roads in the aftermath of the flames. Aside from these harrowing scenes, there is little other negative content, save a handful of profanities. This is definitely suitable for teen viewing at home or in the classroom.

Burning is not a comfortable documentary but it successfully uses Australia’s terrible experience to raise questions of all viewers. How does climate change affect us? To what extent to we contribute to it? What can we do to mitigate it and what policies should we encourage politicians to support? There are no easy answers, but this is the burning issue of our time and this film does an excellent job of giving it a raw immediacy that will not allow audiences to forget.

Directed by Eva Orner. Running time: 86 minutes. Theatrical release November 26, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Burning

Rating & Content Info

Why is Burning rated Not Rated? Burning is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence:   There are numerous pictures of wildfires with trees and buildings burning. Film clip of burned koala bear trying to escape fires. There are images of incinerated kangaroos lying on the road. There are other scenes of animals trying to escape wildfires. There is mention of people dying in fires. There is a scene of a burned koala bear crying. There is mention of firefighters dying.
Sexual Content: A man fights fires wearing only his underwear.
Profanity:  There are a half dozen profanities in the movie including scatological curses, a minor swear word, and a sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   None noted.

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Burning Parents' Guide

For more information about Australia’s catastrophic Black Summer, you can check these links.

BBC: Australia fires: A visual guide to the bushfire crisis

The Conversation: Australia’s Black Summer of fire was not normal – and we can prove it

United Nations Environment Programme: Ten impacts of the Australian bushfires

Vox: Australia’s weird weather is getting even weirder

Wired: The Terrible Consequences of Australia’s Uber-Bushfires

Does your country or region face challenges from climate change? What are the biggest concerns? What can you do to prepare?

The New York Times: Every Country Has Its Own Climate Risks. What’s Yours?

The Guardian: The climate disaster is here

Carbon Brief: Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world

Climate change can easily feel overwhelming but there are actions that individuals can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These websites can help you determine what you want to do in the face of climate change.

Climate Calculator: ClimateHero Carbon Calculator

Conserve Energy Future: 45+ Easy and Simple Ways to Stop Global Warming and Reduce Earth’s Temperature

Curbed: 101 Ways to Fight Climate Change


Home Video

Related home video titles:

Climate change first burst onto most people’s consciousness with Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Young activist Greta Thunberg and her dedication to campaigning for measures to slow climate change is the subject of the documentary I Am Greta.

California’s 2018 fire season is the key topic at the heart of Rebuilding Paradise, a documentary which addresses the challenges of recovering after a shattering fire.

Fictional movies also address climate change. Weathering with You is a Japanese anime film set in a future Tokyo prone to flooding. A drought stricken planet gives impetus to a space mission seeking a new home for humanity in Interstellar. Apocalyptic climate change predictions come true with dizzying speed in The Day After Tomorrow.