Cunard British Film Festival 2017 REVIEW: Swallows and Amazons
Amongst the Cunard British Film Festival 2017 programme comes an age-old tale of childhood vigour. Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, Swallows and Amazons takes place in 1930s England to showcase the idyllic wonder of a family-holiday-turned-adventure. Except, what I didn’t realise at the time is that I’d just walked into a children's film.
The film adaptation is an ode to Arthur Ransome’s original 1930 novel, and though such a text could appear obscure for our time, it embodies a certain timelessness that is hard to find in the genre. As well as that, the film's cinematography had the story unfolding in stunning yet unpredictable fashion. In the blink of an eye, you’re transported to a different place — living and breathing the bucolic English landscape.
Enter the Walkers. Upon arriving at Lake District, John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker become restless and determined to set sail across a seemingly serene lake. However, the lake holds countless surprises in store, with the stubborn lot involved in a series of wild encounters — from chancing upon and interfering in secret government missions, to fighting off their 'at-sea' counterparts and being marooned on an island.
While Swallows and Amazons exhibits childhood naivety at its best, it’s uncertain whether the characters’ actions remain valiant or foolish in the grand scheme of things.
With a haphazard plot, the story is disjointed as the Walker siblings unknowingly voyage into the sinister. There are moments of comical brilliance and danger, and moments otherwise, but in the end the Walkers remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they realise the secret to a grand time: unity.
While the film certainly isn’t for an older demographic, it is an exemplary family film — especially for those young enough to feel compelled to clap during credits. One could even say it was well and truly a reminder of the simpler things in life.