Monday, 12 December 2016

Family Films for Christmas - Swallows and Amazons

Growing up in a time before DVDs, games consoles, big screen TVs, the internet, iPads and smartphones, childhood was far more simple. Days were spent out of doors from the early morning to when the sun went down (only popping home for our dinner). We'd play in the woods, in the field or by the river. Life was more innocent, we had more freedom and we never even thought to question our safety.

Watching the new Swallows and Amazons movie, I found the way that the children enjoyed their freedom very familiar and quite nostalgic. Although it is set four decades before my own childhood, so much of the adventure resonated with my own inner child. Exploring new places, building camps, making fires, playing with bows and arrows and being free to play all day long, are things I remember fondly!

The film is very charming and enchanting, reflecting an innocent era of time gone by. Swallows and Amazons is an adventure set in 1935, based on the classic children's novel by Arthur Ransome. It harks back to a time where imaginations were the only things that kids needed to play.


While holidaying in the Lake District, the Walker children become embroiled in an exciting and unexpectedly dangerous adventure. To entertain themselves, the four children decide to set sail to an island in the middle of a lake, onboard a boat called the Swallow. Thinking that it is a deserted island, the children claim it as their own and set up camp. However they soon realise that somebody else has been there before. They meet two other children, who captain their own pirate boat, the Amazon, who have already laid claim to the island. This leads to a battle between the Swallows and the Amazons for control and supremacy over the island.

Swallows and Amazons

During their adventure, the children also become embroiled in a mystery surrounding a secretive man who lives on a houseboat on the lake. He is hiding a dark secret that finds the children involved in some drama concerning pre-WWII espionage, which lands them in a very dangerous situation. The children need to come together and use all their cunning and bravery against a common foe.

The film has a great British cast with familiar faces such as Harry Enfield, Kelly MacDonald, Rafe Spall and Jessica Hynes in starring roles. The children are excellent young actors who breathe life into this heartwarming tale with their energy and personalities. The locations are stunning, showcasing the natural beauty of Cumbria, the music is lovely and the cinematography is quite beautiful.

Swallows and Amazons introduces this classic tale to a whole new generation of children. There are no dazzling special effects or CGI, instead you have real life adventure and exciting storytelling. There is some edge of your seat action that made us hold our breath, along with some genuinely funny moments.

Overall, this is a quaint, simple, charming film that captures the essence of the original classic tale. It is a breath of fresh air in our hi-tech existence, which reminds us that there is a whole world of adventure out there to  discover. It is a perfect film that the family can enjoy together this Christmas.

Swallows and Amazons lands on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital download from December 12th 2016 courtesy of STUDIOCANAL.


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