Swallows and Amazons: Film Review

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I have not read Arthur Ransome’s 1930 book Swallows and Amazons nor have I seen the 1974 movie so I could come into this remake completely free from expectations, just like the new generation of kids, which this is intended for. So while I can’t compare how it holds up to its predecessor, I can say with certainty that it’s a delightful old-fashioned family film that I hope kids will really enjoy.

It’s set in the 1930s, when the five Walker children and their mother (Kelly Macdonald) travel to the Lake District to spend the summer. The four oldest sail on a boat named Swallow to a seemingly deserted island in the middle of the lake for a camping trip but soon clash with Amazons, or the Blackett sisters, who have claimed the land for themselves. That’s not all that’s going on – there is a shifty Russian-speaking man Lazlov (Andrew Scott) about town, hunting for the Blackett’s uncle, Jim Turner, aka Captain Flint (Rafe Spall), a spy disguised as a travel writer.

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This reminded me of other old-fashioned films like The Railway Children and I’m happy they are still being made because they are simply wonderful. I like that children can learn about a time before phones, when people went outside and had adventures rather than sat on their bums. These films have such an innocent and charming quality to them which I was enchanted by. The children are adorable and the younger two made me chuckle often – I like these unknowns have been found and are surrounded by a well-known support cast including Jessica Hynes and Harry Enfield. 

I like that it meanders along and is quite simple and doesn’t require much thinking. The filmmakers have added Lazlov into the mix to up the ante, and I can see that the new generation would have found the movie rather boring if the threat of his presence wasn’t added in. So while it’s been updated to suit a modern audience which demands more excitement, it’s still not action-packed and the thrills aren’t particularly scary.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a cinema trip to see this, but it’s a perfect option for a Sunday afternoon watch. It has a laidback, leisurely feel but has enough going on to capture kids’ imagination and sense of adventure.

In cinemas Friday 19th August 

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