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An Old Fashioned Adventure
Swallows And Amazons (DVD)
Member Name: Vialdana
Swallows And Amazons (DVD)
Advantages: kids getting to do their own thing and be kids the way they're not allowed today.
Disadvantages: a little old fashioned in language and style.
Swallows & Amazons History
The Swallows & The Amazons was first a book - written by Arthur Ransome in 1930. As a child it was a favourite of mine along with the other books in the series, and I was captivated by the adventures of these children who were allowed to take boats out on a lake and camp on their very own island without any adults.
The film of the Swallows & Amazons was made in 1973, and it follows the book really very closely unlike many modern films made of books. It stars Virginia McKenna as the children's mother, and Sophie Neville as one of the main child characters and was directed by Claude Whatham.
The original book was inspired by the summers that Arthur Ransome spent teaching his friends children to sail. The two real boats were called Swallow and Mavis but obviously Ransome decided that Mavis wasn't as good a name as Amazon when he came to write the books.
the 5 Walker children and their mother come to stay in the Lake District for the holidays. The eldest four (the youngest is a baby), get permission to sail out in their small dingy called 'Swallow' and stay on the island in the middle of the lake.
While staying on the island, they meet 2 girls - Nancy (real name Ruth), and Peggy Blackett who are pirates sailing the yacht 'Amazon' and their uncle who lives on a houseboat on the island. The meeting of these groups is begun by a loud bang where someone has set off a banger on the houseboat and 'Captain Flint' (houseboat owner) thinks that it's the Swallows (The Walker kids) who have done this, when in fact it was really his nieces getting their own back on him for spending the summer writing instead of playing with them. What with this, and Arrows being shot into the middle of their camp, a stolen boat, a burglary and a fishing expedition, a bit of a row ensues but all ends well with a parley, boat race, a party on the houseboat and lots of fun for everyone.
This is quite a dated film in many ways from the language used to the clothing worn by the children, but despite this, it's a film which still works because it's one about kids. Some of the speech is a little stilted in places from some of these child actors, but partly that's from the book and the era it's set in, so you sort of don't find it a problem.
For me, the two best actors in this of the children are Peggy and Titty (yes I know it may make some kids snigger now, but it was a perfectly respectable name till quite recently). Peggy is a bit of a chatterbox and the lass playing her does very well with her, giving away little secrets and snippets and generally sounding very real. I particularly love one little scene where she's saying that Nancy's real name is Ruth, but that their uncle says that the Amazon Pirates were ruthless so she got renamed. It's taken directly from the book, but it's the way she says it all which makes me smile. Titty in the book is an imaginative child always dreaming and writing and pretending things, and you get a good sense of that in the film with things like seeing her imaginings when she's left alone on the island and is writing and pretending to be Robinson Crusoe all alone for many years.
You don't get quite the sense of Susan in the film as you do in the book to be honest - in the book she's quite fussy and a bit prim, but very good at cooking and organising and looking after the others which is why the adults trust the kids to camp alone. In the film this is made much less of, although she does still prod Roger the youngest to make sure he swims and doesn't just splash, and things. The others however are much as the book portrays them.
This is not the sort of film every child today will enjoy to be honest. I'd put it more as the sort of thing that might be enjoyed when they're feeling a bit tired or poorly perhaps, or when they want something to watch with mum. It's also the sort of film that those of us adults who were brought up on a diet of the books may well enjoy as a little trip down memory lane.
I've seen this for around a fiver in a variety of places, and I don't think I'd want to spend more than that on it certainly, in fact to be honest I'd say that around £2-3 would probably be my limit for it. I got mine for just 5p from a charity shop (in a damaged cardboard case), and it was a version that was given away as a freebie in the daily mail. For this price I thought it was very worthwhile.
Summary: A really good old fashioned kids adventure story.