Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
United Kingdom, 1974. Theatre Projects Film Productions Ltd.. Screenplay by David Wood, based on the book by Arthur Ransome. Cinematography by Dennis C. Lewiston. Produced by Richard Pilbrow. Music by Wilfred Josephs. Production Design by Simon Holland. Costume Design by Emma Porteous. Film Editing by Michael Bradsell.
Wonderfully charming adaptation of the book by Arthur Ransome that perfectly captures the simple delights of childhood. A lovely Virginia McKenna brings her four children on to their vacation home by a lake while her husband is far away serving in Her Majesty’s Navy. The children have all learned sailing skills from their father, assigning each other ranks in their own little maritime outfit, and taking their boat, The Swallow, to a beautiful island in the middle of the lake where they set up camp. They quickly learn that the island is already the marked territory of two girls who have their own boat, The Amazon, and fancy themselves dangerous pirates. The children all decide to embark on a mission together, to capture the houseboat of the girls’ uncle (Ronald Fraser) who has spent the summer distracted with his writing projects. They can’t have two leaders for this dangerous raid, however, and so they concoct an exciting contest to see if boat’s captain will be in charge, which involves a member of one team capturing the other’s boat. When they do finally board the exasperated adult’s vessel, he accuses them of being the thieves who broke into his personal belongings the night before and stole his manuscript. A cynical modern mind finds itself in terror at each step of this warm and witty film, worried that it will manipulate your sympathies by allowing something terrible to happen to one of these sporty and intelligent kids, but have no fear: it’s all about learning to cooperate while having fun and making new friends, and does so with sparkling simplicity and beauty.