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Old 18th Sep 2016, 21:07   #1
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Location: Highlands of Scotland
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Default Swallows and Amazons (2016)

Swallows and Amazons - I must admit that I went to see this with a
certain amount of dread. I have loved the books since I read them as a
child some 40+ years ago and they have been shared with Daughter Number
Two at bedtimes over the past few years.

My fears were justified.

I KNOW you can't just take a book and film it. I KNOW that what works
well on the page doesn't necessarily work well on the screen. But what
I don't understand is why someone would take a great book that has
worked its spell on generations, take the very thing that make it
special and successful (the world of childhood imagination, free from
the constraints of adult supervision), dump it, and graft on a whole
new layer of story ideas about spies and secret documents that, quite
frankly, looks like it was lifted straight out of an Enid Blyton Famous
Five book.

I can also understand that characters have to be altered for the
screen: the name 'Titty' would raise unwanted snigger and was
understandably changed to 'Tatty', Mrs Walker was played by a Scottish
actress and so was sensibly changed from having an Australian childhood
to one in the Highlands, but what is less understandable is the
changing of Susan's character from a sensible, organised 'ship's mate'
into a bumbling, whining klutz who can't fry a fish... I'm baffled. (If
this was some attempt to avoid 'sexism' it failed miserably as all the
other female characters in the film were shown being thoroughly
domestic) It just robbed Susan of any strength of character at all. She
just becomes a blonde piece of the scenery who doesn't really do
anything except feed John the odd line.

One of the things that make the book special - especially for
landlubbers like myself - is the way that the technicalities of sailing
are bought so vividly to life. Reefing, jibbing, coming about, raising
the keel, raising the sail, stepping the mast... all that technical
stuff that the children in the books understand, and are so proficient
at, is reduced here to a few lines like "Go faster, John!", "We're
losing them!" - usually delivered off-camera or in long shot as the
crew of the Swallow just sit there in the boat like cargo. For all the
shots of boats in the water there's very little sailing going on in
this film. And sailing is at the heart of the books. The night sailing
up the lake to seize the Amazon is the whole heart of the book. In the
film the night sail up the lake is disposed of in a few quick shots -
in daylight.

I was incredibly disappointed and Number Two Daughter (aged 13) was
too. She thought someone who hadn't read the book might like it as a
film in its own right but as an adaptation of Swallows and Amazons?
Sorry. No.
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Last edited by JunkMonkey; 18th Sep 2016 at 21:17.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 11:52   #2
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Default Re: Swallows and Amazons (2016)

That's such a shame. I love the book. Thanks for the heads up.
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