Swallows and Amazons Parent Guide
A wonderful family film with warm sibling relationships, positive life lessons, and glorious scenery.
Parent Movie Review
Swallows and Amazons opens in 1930s England, with the Walker family bereft of husband and father - Captain Walker is in the South China Sea, commanding a British naval destroyer. His wife (Kelly Macdonald) takes their baby and four other children, John, Susan, Tatty and Roger (played by Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, and Bobby McCulloch) for a vacation in England’s scenic Lake District. Once there, the kids mount a successful campaign to persuade their mother that they are responsible enough to sail their landlord’s boat, The Swallow, to the island in the middle of the lake and camp out for several days without adult supervision.
Contemporary parents will be astonished at the amount of independence the children enjoy. But Mrs. Walker is determined that her children enjoy the kind of freedom she had in her Highland youth: “They’re cooped up inside too much at home. I don’t want them afraid of the world.”
The independence Mrs. Walker allows her youngsters must be earned, however. They have to prove their sailing proficiency and help Roger get his swimming skills up to standard. They sew tents, make flags, pack essential cooking supplies, and work together. And this turns out to be a good thing when the kids face the loss of their food hamper, a turf war with two wannabe pirates crewing The Amazon, and international intrigue with Russian spies (one played with sly humor by Andrew Scott.) Their adventures will require co-operation, unity, loyalty, hard work, courage, and ingenuity.
Parents won’t have much trouble anticipating the trajectory of the movie’s plot. But they don’t have to worry about content issues. The only potential area of concern is violence – after all, there are spies with guns in the movie. But none of the violence is graphic or gratuitous and it will only frighten the most sensitive children. This movie was produced in the United Kingdom and was not rated in the US, but it fits very comfortably in the PG category.
Swallows and Amazons moves a bit slower than most adventure movies geared at kids, but it doesn’t get boring. It may lack frenetic action sequences, but it more than compensates with warm sibling relationships; lessons about honesty, bravery, responsibility, and working together; and some glorious scenery. It manages to chart a course to adventure that will be appreciated by children and parents alike.Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe. Starring Bobby McCulloch, Dane Hughes, Kelly Macdonald. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release July 14, 2017. Updated August 1, 2019
Watch the trailer for Swallows and Amazons
Swallows and Amazons
Rating & Content Info
Why is Swallows and Amazons rated Not Rated? Swallows and Amazons is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A man grabs a baby away from its sibling and threatens children to keep quiet about seeing him. A girl makes a throat-slitting gesture to silence a sibling. Characters point guns on several occasions. A teenager accidentally breaks a boat window and runs away. A child is accidentally struck on the head by a boat’s mast. Characters occasionally talk about killing someone. Children see dead animals hanging on posts. A girl guts a fish, some detail is shown. Children fire cap guns at another group of kids. Children shoot arrows at other youngsters. A man hits another on the head with a gun. A man is tied up and abducted. A teenager pulls a gun on some men. A gun is fired but no one is harmed.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: None noted. Some minor name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A mother smokes a cigarette, which is historically accurate for the period. A man drinks out of a flask – we are not told it is alcohol although that is likely.
Page last updated August 1, 2019
Swallows and Amazons Parents' Guide
John doesn’t admit to breaking the houseboat window. Why not? What are the consequences of this behavior? How would things have been different if he had confessed? Do we always understand the potential consequences of dishonesty?
The Walker siblings are growing up in an era without digital devices. How do they keep amused and busy without them? Do any of their activities appeal to you? What do you do when you’re not watching a screen?
If you love the scenery in the movie, you can learn more about the filming locations here.
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you enjoy this movie, you will want to read the original book – Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Hardcore fans can continue the Walker children’s adventures through the complete 12 book series.
Fans of English adventure books for children will want to read E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children. This classic novel tells the story of a family shaken when their father is incarcerated. The mother and her three children move to a railway station where the youngsters meet new people and have exciting adventures.
Enid Blyton is one of the most popular British writers of children’s adventure books. Her Famous Five series begins with Five on a Treasure Island. The series extends to 21 books. Also well loved by generations of fans is The Secret Seven. This series covers 16 books.
The most recent home video release of Swallows and Amazons movie is September 12, 2017. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
For another movie which features kids having adventures without adults around, you can follow the Pevensie siblings into a magical realm in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
A cub reporter named Tintin has hair-raising experiences in pursuit of a good story in Adventures of Tintin.
Less dramatic adventures take place in The Sandlot. Set in the early 1960s, this production tells the story of a group of young boys and the adventures they have on and off the baseball diamond.