Swiss Family Robinson Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Setting up home in a tree on an uninhabited island isn’t exactly what the Robinson family had in mind when they left their native Switzerland and headed to New Guinea. But a violent ocean storm and a shipload of marauding pirates leaves the parents (John Mills and Dorothy McGuire) and their three sons stranded in an uncharted tropical location.
Still, being cast away on an island doesn’t seem so bad when the family is able to scavenge what they need from the marooned boat, including housewares, tools and a small herd of farm animals. Once they are done setting up a temporary household, the older boys Fritz (James MacArthur) and Ernst (Tommy Kirk) convince their parents to let them sail around the island and see what they can find. Leaving their youngest brother Francis (Kevin Corcoran) to care for his growing menagerie of exotic pets, the older siblings head off on an exploration trip.
Anchored in another isle inlet, they discover the band of pirates that chased their boats into the rocks. The leader and his men are holding two captives. Sneaking up behind the prisoners, the two boys manage to free the cabin boy (Janet Munro) before the pirates discover them but are unable to rescue the captain (Cecil Parker). Without a canoe to continue their journey, the brothers and young sailor set off across the island.
Realizing the buccaneers know their whereabouts, the Robinsons take precautions to fight off the invaders. Building a fortress at the top of a hill, they outfit it with coconut bombs, a myriad of booby traps, guns and ammunition.
Filmed in 1960, this family movie is set in an idyllic location and packed with enough adventure, suspense and unexpected surprises to engage most older children. While the battle with pirates has some tense moments, the lighthearted musical score underplays (for good or bad) the serious nature of the attack, the gunfire, the booby traps and the hand-to-hand combat that results in men being thrown over a cliff. Even a stalking tiger and large water snake appear to be less dangerous than they would in real life.
Instead the film portrays the epitome of childhood fantasy where the family’s large tree house contains rope bridges, separate bedrooms built in the branches and a retractable ladder. Francis’ pets include an elephant, an ostrich, a donkey, a zebra and two large dogs. Afternoons are spent swinging in the trees or swimming in the watering hole.
While parts of the film may seem dated or even politically incorrect for today, the story, based on a book by Johann David Wyss, will likely leave the kids scouring the neighborhood for a tree where they reenact their own version of Swiss Family Robinson.Starring John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk. Theatrical release December 10, 1960. Updated April 15, 2009
Swiss Family Robinson
Rating & Content Info
Why is Swiss Family Robinson rated G? Swiss Family Robinson is rated G by the MPAA
During a storm, a ship runs aground with the Robinson family locked in the hull. The group nearly capsizes while making their way to shore on a homemade raft. Sharks also attack them. Pirates in a ship fire upon the survivors. On the island, a tiger stalks the survivors and fights with the family’s dogs. Pirates rough up two captives as well as fight among themselves with swords. One man is left lying on the beach. Characters are attacked in the water by a large snake. Tensions and jealousy cause squabbles between two brothers. To defend themselves, the family makes coconut bombs, booby traps and other defensive devices. During a raid by pirates, numerous men are shot, caught in traps, hit by falling rocks and trees, attacked by a penned tiger and slashed with swords. In an extended scene of hand-to-hand combat, several characters are shot, hit and pushed over a cliff. A small craft is hit by a cannon ball and the passengers are thrown into the air. The script includes some mild name-calling and brief scenes of peril. The family drinks alcohol with dinner. A young boy is given a sip of liquor during a family celebration.
Page last updated April 15, 2009
More parents' guide for Swiss Family Robinson after the break...
Swiss Family Robinson Parents' Guide
Once they are marooned, what does the family do to ensure their survival? How do their different talents and skills benefit the group? How does their experience help them bond with one another?
Why did the family choose to leave Switzerland? What things did they leave behind? What did they hope to find in a new country?
The most recent home video release of Swiss Family Robinson movie is May 6, 2002. Here are some details…
Set sail for adventure with the DVD release of Swiss Family Robinson. Director Ken Annakin and stars Tommy Kirk, James MacArthur and Kevin Corcoran drop anchor and share their thought in an audio commentary. Also included on the disc are Sea Salts (an animated short), production archives, the 1960 Disney Studio Album and the featurettes Adventure In The Making, PIRATES! and Conversations With James MacArthur. Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0).
Related home video titles:
Marauding pirates attack a town looking for a lost coin the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Tommy Kirk (Ernst) and Kevin Corcoran (Francis) also play brothers in the Disney classics, Old Yeller (1957) and The Shaggy Dog (1959).