Ten Shot: Swallows and Amazons

Swallows and Amazons

Recently my wife and I watched the 2017 young adult movie Swallows and Amazons. Based on a 1935 novel of the same name, it centers around lake sailing, spies, and pirates.

  1. It’s odd seeing adults smoke casually in a children’s movie. The adult star, Kelley MacDonald, is seen taking a break from her kids on a train ride out of London, stepping into the corridor to have a smoke.
  2. A major plot point concerns a teen getting a pocket knife as a sign of responsibility and age.
  3. There are no People Of Color anywhere in the movie. Not on screen at least. I don’t think this is weird or wrong in any way, as I don’t think there was much migration of minorities from outside the major cities at that point. Adding them in would be ahistorical and needlessly anachronistic.
  4. The English countryside in the summer is so green! The lake water is so blue!
  5. Girls make up more than half of the characters, and a quick look at the novel tells me that wasn’t modified for modern audiences. They get to be both smart and dumb in the story.
  6. Now I definitely need to build a boat to go sailing around the local lakes.
  7. I like how analog everything is. When the children need to get their fathers permission to go sail across the lake to camp out on an island, including the 6-year-old, they have to telegraph him. He is in Hong Kong with the royal navy.
  8. Whoever made this movie was clearly in love with the source material. As far as I could tell, not a single easy way out was taken to get a modern audience on board, a la Harry Potter. The children act like children in the ’30s act. At least, in my opinion.
  9. The spies (you pick them out in seconds) are not from the country that is often thought of as being the center of bad people that we associate with movies set around this time period. But looking back at it, from a class perspective, they make perfect sense.
  10. Sometimes, escaping the major productions is very fruitful, and one needs to drill down a bit in the stream services to find something interesting. And that there is plenty in the history of film and literature to mine for gold.
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5 thoughts on “Ten Shot: Swallows and Amazons

  1. Oh I’m going to have to check this out! My dad read me a number of swallows and amazons stories as bedtime reading.
    Very nostalgia! Wow!

    I read one or then recently to my daughter, and noted as you did that they’re pretty awesome on gender for their time, and… probably par for the course on race for something written by a white English author in the 30s – no POC as characters, and the way POC are talked about is probably quite realistic. Hearing kids talk like that now would result in some intervention…

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