Swing Kids


Swing Kids

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 17


Audience Score

User Ratings: 27,929
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Swing Kids Photos

Movie Info

In 1939 Hamburg, Germany, a group of teenagers express their rebellion against Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime through their affection for American swing music, British fashion, and Harlem slang. American and British big-band jazz records are among those banned by the Fuhrer, but the young men secretly get together with their friends to listen and dance to the music. As their escapades become increasingly bold, they each get into trouble with the authorities. Robert Sean Leonard stars as Peter, who ends up being forced -- by a prank -- into having to join the Hitler Youth with his friend Thomas (Christian Bale). They are both engineering students at the university, where Thomas' father was taken away for defending his Jewish colleagues. With Arvid (Frank Whaley), they pretend to be Nazi supporters by day while rebelling with the swing music by night. Kenneth Branagh, in an uncredited appearance, is a glib Nazi Gestapo chief who makes matters more difficult. Each of the boys must choose among family, safety, friendship, and freedom as politics impinges on their youthful exuberance, and the Nazis set them against one another. The movie was shot in Prague, directed by Thomas Carter from a script by Jonathan Marc Feldman, and released by Disney. Barbara Hershey appears as Peter's mother.

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Robert Sean Leonard
as Peter Müller
Christian Bale
as Thomas Berger
Barbara Hershey
as Frau Müller
Kenneth Branagh
as Herr Knopp, Gestapo
David Tom
as Willi Müller
Julia Stemberger
as Frau Linge
Noah Wyle
as Emil Lutz
Johan Leysen
as Herr Schumler
Douglas Roberts
as Herr Hinz
Martin Clunes
as Bannführer
Carl Brincat
as H.J. Thug
Mary Fogarty
as Mama Klara Müller
Karel Belohradsky
as Bismarck Owner
Peter Baikie
as Bismarck Bandleader
Jennifer Chamberlain
as Swing Girl With Thomas
Nada Konvalinková
as Pastry Shop Woman
Lucie Vackarova
as Swing Girl With Peter
Petr Jakl
as Policeman in Marketplace
David Robb
as Dr. Berger
Katerina Dankova
as Evey's School Friend
Magdalena Chrzova
as Evey's School Friend
Ciaran Madden
as Frau Berger
Petr Lepsa
as Cafe Trichter Owner
Jiri Malek
as Jewish Boy
Jeremy Bulloch
as Small Club Owner
Metin Yenal
as Customer in Bookshop
Joseph Bennett
as Luftwaffe Pilot
Arthur White
as Alberti
Sean Pertwee
as Gestapo Arresting Berger
Sarka Horcikova
as Berger's Maid
Jochen Horst
as Speaker at HJ Rally
Vladimir Matejcek
as Funeral Pastor
John Duval
as Gestapo With Ashes
Marie Vorlova
as First Woman With Ashes
Eliza Clark
as Girl with Ashes
Kate Buffery
as Woman With Ashes
Sabine Skala
as Cafe Bismarck Singer
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Critic Reviews for Swing Kids

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (8)

Audience Reviews for Swing Kids

  • Jul 18, 2011
    Just listen to the premise and you can clearly deduce your enjoyment of this film: teenagers in Nazi occupied Germany rebel through their obsession with swing music. On the one hand, it does have historical implications , uses accurate information to draw a clear picture of how fearful the populace was of their government, and the assimilation of the peoples into a regime. On the other hand, most of the film strays from swing music altogether and instead delves into the role the Nazis took in indoctrinating their youth to believe in the Reich over decency. We're presented with three main characters: Peter, Thomas, and Arvid. All enjoy swing music, though Arvid is a cripple who plays the guitar with the band, and the others dance with gusto in a local club. None of them feel direct sympathy for the Jews, but do feel hatred for the Hitler Youth, who constantly beat up swing kids and hold raids on clubs. Peter, our main character, is pushed into joining the Youth through coercion, and Thomas does also for solidarity. The film veers into the true nature of the party, brining Peter's inner struggle to the service. This section of the film drags quite a bit, focusing more on fear and strong persuasion to discount freedom. The performances by Leonard, Bale, and Whaley were each singularly unique, and complimented each other. Still, their characters were too casually perfect for the formula needed: one is deadset against, one is conflicted, and one readily follows. It's too neat for me. Besides all that, the characters speak in Harlem slang, use the phrase "Swing Heil", and speak of swing music as an obsession, nothing else surely making any of them happy like it. This wouldn't have been so strange if all the characters weren't speaking English, when it's set in Germany, and the main evil doer played by Kenneth Branaugh didn't have a British accent. It was too much fluff in a film that should have been more about teenage rebellion, and less about taking society down with dancing, because that's all the movie is: dancing. Too strange for my blood.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2009
    Typical film you catch on a Thursday morning on Hallmark or something. Troublemaking kids love jazz and swing in Nazi Germany... then they're forced to become Nazi Youth Militants or something and tragedy ensues. Christian Bale is definitely a promising actor here -OK I am biased since he's one of my favorite actors, but his performance is one of the truly entertaining things about the film. Robert Sean Leonard does a decent job, if only it did not resemble his character in Dead Poet's Society. A different, less typecast of a lead would've done the film some good. Amusing, good music and choreography, that's all!
    Elvira B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2009
    Yes, that's right kids... The Nazi's were defeated by the power of DANCE. Of all the millions of stories you could tell about WW2 era Europe, this one should have been near the bottom of the list.
    Jake B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 20, 2008
    Pretty unsinpired movie portraying the fate of a bunch of "Swing Kids" in Nazi Germany. The movie feels as if the producers were intrigued by the idea of making a movie about the swing kids but refused to put any more effort into the creative development of the movie, blandly stretching its appeal out over the whole feature and thus making it feel shallow and unsatisfying in the end. The cast is somewhat likeable, Robert Sean Leonard deserved a better fate as actor instead of being stuck on House MD, people had high hopes for after he stole the show on Dead Poets society but nothing ever came of it. Christian Bale, what can I say, he shows one more why he is one of the greatest actors of our time and his talent is sparkling off the screen. The rest of the cast (including a subtle Kenneth Branagh) is average. I must say, I always get confused with movie set in non-American countries being so throughroughly American, some actors speak with German accent, others don't, some things are written in German, others aren't, a lacklustre production. As I said before, the story is build around the idea of the Swing Kids, but is nothing out of the ordinary, same old boring stuff you have seen in all the other movies. Bad guys, good guys, bla bla bla. The swing dancing is nice to look at but the swing segements, as well as the general portrayal of the swing scene lack focus and love for detail and you will usually find yourself switching off during the segemtns, all in all, the actor's passion for the swing is very unbelievable. I'd say good effort, but it wasn't. I'd say nice that someone looks at a rather undocumented phenomenon of German history, but that is both not the case and has not been the intention by the producers, who were simply looking to exploit it and turn it into some jazzy (literally) movie event, bah. Way below par, two stars for Christian Bale, set design and costumes but that - is - it. Stay away from it Henrik
    Henrik S Super Reviewer

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