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(2011), NR [Very Lite PG*] (1hr 25.5min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
September 24, 2011
September 24, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2011), NR [Very Lite PG*] ... the common thread and the engine for the story is youthful defiance

Production (US): Hallmark, Believe Pictures, Odyssey Networks
Distribution (US): Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Director(s): Michael Landon, Jr.
Producer(s): Mithcell Galin, Carey Nelson Burch, Cindy Bond, Maura Dunbar, Brian Bird, Michael Landon, Jr.
Teleplay by: Chris Easterly
Novel by: Beverly Lewis
Cinematography/Camera: Christo Bakalov
Music: Lee Holdridge
Film Editing: David Kiern
Casting: Victoria Burrows, Scot Boland, Corrigan & Johnson
Production Design: Jennifer O'Kelly
Viewed on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD

In this film directed by one of the faith-based film masters, Michael Landon, Jr. ("Little Joe" of Bonanza fame), a 20 year old Amish girl, Katie Lapp (Danielle Panabaker - featured on the poster) is ignored by all her community - she is shunned.

One of the features of the CAP analysis model is that it makes no judgments as to whether a sinful demonstration or display is justified. We simply use prescribed investigation standards to tell you what is there - you decide whether it is fit. Such is especially true for this film. Maybe the rebellion and defiance demonstrated by Katie, the quintessential star of the film, is indeed justified but you will have to decide that for yourself and for whatever audience with which you might share this film.

The Shunning is a well knit tapestry of Amish life with many quality performances to be sure. But the common thread and the engine for the story is youthful defiance. Whether the defiance is "justified" in your eyes is not my call to make. Please be aware of the risk that youthful viewers will likely see the defiance portrayed as victory over "parental control."

Because of so many repeated demonstrations of defiance and rebellion this film earned R-equivalence in Impudence/Hate (I). All other investigation areas found the content to be G-equivalent but the sheer number of examples of defiance and rebellion made the magnitude of the impudence content of this film easily equivalent to the magnitude of the same in some R-rated features, not because of the severity or intensity of any individual examples of rebellion and defiance but because of the sheer number of them (12.0 per hour). See our CAP Rule of 1000 for more information on this content loading technique.

Teen Katie is introduced to defiance by teen Daniel Fisher (David Topp) by him teaching her to play the guitar and sing ... and kiss ... in secret of course. Whether we see these as "normal", all of them are against the Amish community standards whether we agree or not. So the image projected by such behavior in such a setting is clearly defiance. Katie and Daniel are now in love. Soon Daniel drowns and Katie feels she is left all alone with no more contact with that which made her feel "alive."

Three years pass and Katie reluctantly agrees to marry the Hickory Hollow, PA Bishop, widower John Beiler (Burgess Jenkins) with two young sons, Jacob (Jackson Wyatt Laner) and Hickory John (Dalton Parrish). But as the marriage day approaches, Katie finds that she is not the biological daughter of the Lapps, Samuel (Bill Oberst, Jr.) and Rebecca (Sandra Van Natta): that for twenty years the Lapps raised her as their own child like her brother, Benjamin (Jason Laughlin). Katie's biological mother, the wealthy Laura Bennett (Sherry Stringfield) who gave up Katie to the Lapps is dying and feels she must see Katie, er, Katherine one more time. At the time Katie was born Laura was 16 year old Laura Mayfield (Alexa Yeames). So, Katie is Katherine Mayfield by birth. Coupled with Katie's history of strong-willed defiance regarding her guitar and singing, Katie uses every measure of defiance she could calculate to get answers. It is because of her defiance and disrespect that Katie is shunned. While shunned, no one can speak to her, eat with her or have anything to do with her. Shunning is a last-resort Amish discipline technique to guide the offender back to humility.

One question that may be generated by this film is "what is a family?" Is it biology or is it love and building a life together that makes a family? Being the father of eight adopted children I side with the later. With adopting eight children I can say with credibility that the love I have for my adopted kids is just as real and just as deep as my love for my two biological sons. Why am I telling you this? In part because it fits with the story but more so to put in a plug for the expression "Choose adoption, not abortion."


Following are brief discussions of the content per individual CAP investigation area. As always the Findings section of this report is the best source for discovering the full accounting of the content of this film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 88 out of 100
A medical emergency, implied suicide and an illegal baby giveaway are the only matters that apply to the violence and/or criminal content of this film.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 34 out of 100
There is no profanity in the entire 85.5 minutes of the show. But the instances of arrogance, rebellion and defiance and disrespect are so many that the content found applicable to this investigation area is equivalent to the same content in some R-rated films. [Isa. 30:1] The score in this investigation area is the reason for the red CAPCon Alert light atop this page. Click on it for an explanation.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 96 out of 100
The only matter that applies to the standards of this investigation area is the immoral sex (unmarried sex) that brought about the pregnancy of 16 year old Laura. The baby is not immoral, the act that caused the pregnancy is. [1 Cor. 7:1 - 2, Hebr. 13:4]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
There are no instances of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs in this film.

Offense to God (O) - 96 out of 100
The only cinematic demonstration that applies to this investigation area found is the case of Daniel using smooth talk and vain philosophy to lead Katie astray and into rebellion and defiance. [Col 2:8, Rom. 16:18]

Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
There are no portrayals of murder or suicide in this film.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Isa. 30:1 "Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, to those who carry out plans [take counsel, adopt ways] that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin;
  • 1 Cor. 7:1 - 2 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before AND during marriage AND gender], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • Rom. 16:18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend what is vile, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it.]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    The Shunning (2011) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 88 out of 100
  • implied suicide - "If anything happens to me" by a teen to a teen love
  • medical emergency
  • illegal baby giveaway

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 34 out of 100
  • sneaking to defy standards, repeatedly
  • lie
  • general sneaking, repeatedly
  • snooping
  • daughter yelling at parent, twice
  • defiance of father based on biological origin
  • defiance of established order
  • abandonment of a baby

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 96 out of 100
  • teen unwed pregnancy

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O) - 96 out of 100
  • teen boy using worldly smooth talk and vain philosophy to lead a teen girl astray

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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