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Okay, who's for an adventure on the high seas? Alright then, you've got me... an adventure at the Lake District.
This film from 1974, based on the book by Arthur Ransome, follows the adventures of four children growing up in the 1920s who travel to the Lake District with their mother on hoilday and are allowed to sail to a nearby island in their boat, the Swallow, and set up camp.
The four children find their newly discovered island is also the territory of two tomboys, the Amazons.
After a brief "skirmish" and a night-time sailing race, the Swallows and the Amazons join forces to "declare war" on their foe, the "pirate" Captain Flint.
This is a charmingly old fashioned. The children are very much in the tradition of The Railway Children and The Famous Five where children speak in Received Pronunciation, have adventures and make sure they're home in time for tea.
Adults, on the main, take a back seat in this film and are split into three categories - the locals are known as "natives", Mother is known as a "stay at home" and villains and "Captain Flint", based on the evidence that he has a cannon on his boat and is grumpy for the majority of the film are known as "pirates".
The acting by the children is solid, given the requirement of the script to basically be the stereotypes of early 20th century childrens books.
Virginia McKenna plays Mother and is very little more than that. She helps the Swallows prepare for their adventures, visits one of them who looks after the camp whilst the rest of the children engage in their night-time race and delivering a telling off and motherly advice.
Ronald Pickup has the more fun role of Captain Flint from being presented a grumpy "pirate", through a misunderstanding with both the Swallows and Amazons and, finally, as an overgrown child having a game of "war" with the children to capture his houseboat.
The script is simplistic harking back to a more innocent time. It could be seen as bland in comparison with modern children's films, and is pretty much a script by the numbers.
In addition to this, the pacing is slow going in the middle third through the night-race scenes.
What rescues this film is the cinematography which makes full use of the Lake District's locations and the enthusiasm of the actors involved.
Now, anyone up for cake and lashings of ginger pop? Spiffing!!!
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