VHS and DVD covers of the film ‘Swallows & Amazons’

The DVD of 'Swallows and Amazons' with a cover based on the 1974 film poster

DVD of Swallows & Amazons with a cover based on the 1974 film poster

When the movie Swallows & Amazons was released forty years ago the mere idea of Blu-ray or DVD recordings had not been dreampt of. When my father asked about acquiring a copy of the film he was quoted £450 for a set of 35mm reels designed to be projected on a cinema screen.  The sum was more than I received for working on location, even though I had a lead part. I was, however, sent a copy of the LP brought out to accompany the film. It was narrated by David Wood who wrote the screenplay and included Wilfred Joseph’s full score. You can still buy these online today.

Swallows and Amazons LP

Although we were never informed,  I now discover that at one time you could buy film clips on Supper 8, to project at home. You could probably still find this on eBay.

Super 8 version of Swallows film

Simon West, Suzanna Hamilton, Sophie Neville and Sten Grendon as the Swallows sailing on Coniston Water

When home video recorders first came out in the late Seventies I was working for Virginia McKenna. I remember her husband Bill Travers telling me that they had decided to go for Beta rather than VHS.  Almost inevitably Swallows & Amazons was released on VHS, in a big fat box, and came into its own as families snuggled down to watch it at home on rainy afternoons.  There were a number of cover designs:

Ronald Fraser on the cover of the VHS

With Ronald Fraser on the cover of the VHS

This one distributed by Warner Bros. is featured on the international movie data base. Click on the image more information and other cover designs.

Swallows and Amazons VHS 3

Readers have sent in an image of the reverse:

VHSreverse

There have been different versions marketed all over the world. The movie became so popular in the Baltic and Czech Republic that it has been dubbed a number of times:

The Norweigian version

The Norwegian version

For years the DVD has been sold as a double bill with The Railway Children, which was also financed by EMI Films.

Swallows and Amazons and Railway Children DVD   Swallows and Amazons and Railway Chidlren VHS

This is the double-bill released by StudioCanal:

DVD released by StudioCanal

 

In 2008 a DVD of very good quality was released by the Daily Mail, with a picture of me looking like a baby monkey on the wrapper. We were given absolutely no warning. The first I knew of it was a friend ringing up to ask me if I could spare a DVD for his kids, ‘Someone’s swiped the office copy.’

Swallows and Amazons Daily Mail DVD

Suzanna Hamilton and Sophie Neville on the cover of the DVD published by the Daily Mail in March 2008

It was featured on the front cover for seven days, as well as in the magazine. I am often asked if we get residuals for distribution rights or when our images are used to promote newspapers but I have never received anything. This version did at least have end credits. There are reviews on Amazon about a DVD that lacked these. I was amazed that anyone even noticed but viewers assured me it was an outrage.

Sophie Neville on the cover of the Daily Mail DVD

I am glad the movie can be watched and enjoyed by successive generations of children. The most inspirational cover of all was on that very first boxed VHS, which featured us sailing up Derwentwater:

'Swallows and Amazons' on VHS

The original VHS version of ‘Swallows and Amazons’

In 2014 a remastered Blu-ray and DVD with an Extras package was launched by StudioCanal to celebrate the 40th Anniversay. If you are thinking of buying a copy, this is the one to get. It is available on Amazon by clicking here.

StudioCanal DVD cover

There was also an edition in French:

French version of the DVD

They later issued a DVD (without extras) adding striking new graphics to the old poster. A sticker advertising the 2016 film of Swallows and Amazons was added to promote the release:

DVD of re-mastered 'Swallows & Amazons' (1974)

Does anyone know of any other VHS or DVD covers?  Do add your comments in the box below.

StudioCanal, who own the rights to the film, have a set of stills you can see by clicking here. To see more stills from the film please click here

12 Comments

Filed under 1973, Arthur Ransome, Cumbria, David Wood, Dinghy sailing, Film, Film Cast, Film History, Lake District, Movie, Richard Pilbrow, Sophie Neville, Suzanna Hamilton, Swallows and Amazons, Uncategorized, Zanna Hamilton

12 responses to “VHS and DVD covers of the film ‘Swallows & Amazons’

  1. Jill G

    Ah, yes, I’ve got the one not shown above but on the imdb website (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm929078784/tt0072233?ref_=tt_pv_md_1), of John sculling, watched by Susan.

  2. Mike D

    Yes, I have the same one on a VHS video released by Warner Brothers, the back includes a still from the film of you with the parrot on your shoulder!

  3. Brian Crawley

    I will email you a scan of the front and back (showing you with the parrot) of the video cover referred to

  4. I remember the LP they did the same with the railway children. Do you know if these are available on digital audio?

    • You can still buy the LP on eBay. I don’t think they ever put it onto digital, although there are new audio copies of the 12 books. The new restored DVD version of the 1`974 film is good. It includes an extras package I helped make.

      You can here the music on ClassicTVPress’ podcast!

      Do let me know if you have any other questions about the film.

  5. Dear Ms.Neville,
    I chanced across your site and am so glad I did.What a pleasure to hear news about this marvelous film,which must have played such a huge part of your life(perhaps too much on occasion!).Interested to see the various covers for the videos,as I have a couple myself,which I’ve taken pictures of and will try to send to you if I can.Interestingly,the reverse of the orange fronted cover is different to the one you have on show,and the other one is only shown on a double box set,not singly.If they are of any interest,please feel free to make use of the images on your site.Without putting you to any trouble,would it be possible for me to send a couple of things for you to sign in future,postage etc taken care of,of course?
    Best wishes,
    John Thorpe.
    PS.If you’d care to take a look at my photo website I’d value your feedback.Thanks.

    • Dear John,

      It would be great to add scans of your VHS covers to my site.

      I have plans to write about other subjects but everyone is thirsty for more and more of ‘Swallows & Amazons’.

      You can see my parent’s colour snaps in the ebook but the paperback was improved on this as I was able to add 16 offical stills from the film.

      I’m happy to sign things – ‘Doctor Who’ fans contact me all the time. Please send them to my publisher: Ashton House, Walhmapton, Lymington SO41 5RB

      Now I will look at your website!

      Many thanks, Sophie

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