I Remember Mama

| 8+
Cautions: some slang and minced oaths, mild ethical confusion, and potential emotional intensity

I Remember Mama is the story of a family that is a mixture of the Old Country and the New World—Norway, and early twentieth-century San Francisco. The Hansons aren’t perfect, but their quaint, quirky ups and downs as the children mature, quarreling Norwegian relatives learn to get along, heirlooms are sold and bought back, the family is bereaved and added to, and young would-be Katrin pieces together her story, have all the steady, picturesque drama of any other loving, unusual, Norwegian family.

1948 | George Stevens | 134 min Watch Trailer

Some Slang and Minced Oaths

Oh my goodness
Oh my goodness
Oh my goodness
Gee willikers

A child says that “in heaven or hell,” no cat was braver than hers.

Mild Ethical Confusion

A relative’s housekeeper initially appears to the family to be more to him than just a housekeeper. This situation is resolved later. In the midst of a medical emergency Mama takes a pragmatic stance on being forced into close quarters with “the woman”, and makes a jab at her sisters’ overemphasis on decorum by telling them, “She looks [like a] nice woman.”

An eccentric side character teaches a little boy “swear words” to help him cope with the pain of a broken leg. The real meaning of the Norwegian phrase is later revealed to be harmless, but the boy does not know this.

Mama and Papa protect their children from worry by deceiving them on a couple of occasions.

Mama breaks hospital rules to visit her child.

Some of the children briefly give way to true but unconstructive criticism of their aunts behind their backs.

A timid, high-strung woman says (probably hyperbolically) that if her sisters laugh at her, she’ll “jump in the bay.”

Mama says that a character who just died “looks happy,” though the spiritual state of the character is never addressed.

Mama and Papa reprove their children, but do not discipline them. The children are occasionally seen ignoring or condescending to them, or refusing to repent of disobedience. Mama and Papa are, however, consistently portrayed as wiser and more virtuous than the children.

The line “above all, to thine own self be true” is read from Shakespeare.

Potential Emotional Intensity

An older side character is seen dying, peacefully but in occasional pain.

A child undergoes surgery, and her family is seen worried.

Another child with a broken bone is seen in occasional pain.

A pet almost dies.


A cat is named Elizabeth before it is discovered to be a male. After one of the children refuses to change its name, the cat is called “Uncle Elizabeth”. No gender confusion was likely intended.

An extended family member is implied to be an alcoholic, and is seen with a flask or a bottle of wine a number of times. This is negatively portrayed. Positively-portrayed characters are said to drink port wine or sherry, and on one occasion drink a toast with wine. No one is ever implied to be drunk.

Papa smokes a pipe. A probably teenage Nels attempts to, as well, as a sign of maturity, but this results in a negative experience and is portrayed as foolish.

Papa is said to be a union member, and a strike is mentioned. This is not, however, portrayed positively.

Katrin tries to decide between going to college or getting a job.

A side character says that being a doctor and helping people who suffer “is to have a little of God in you.”

A gruff side character claims that women’s parents give them dowries because “they are so glad they don’t have to support their daughter, they pay money.”

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