Film adaptations of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on BBC Two

Swallows and Amazons film poster

If you enjoyed the original film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ broadcast on BBC Two today, do think of getting a copy of  ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’, published by The Lutterworth Press or the ebook entitled ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons’. You can read the first section for free on Kindle here. Quite fun!

It’s surprising ‘Swallows and Amazons’ hasn’t been re-made a number of times. The 1974 movie was sold all over the world and has been screened so often it’s become regarded as iconic, labelled ‘a cult classic’ or ‘enduring success’. You can listen to Wildfred Joseph’s film score here:

Thanks to Claude Whatham’s extraordinary skill in creating a period film that never dated, cinema audiences emerge asking if it was made last summer.

danish_swallows_and_amazons_JC03906_L (1)
The Danish poster of ‘Swallows & Amazons’ 1974  giving the Swallows a Jolly Roger or pirate flag

Although it was shot 45 years ago, fan mail still arrives from Australia, the USA and Japan. Families can quote David Wood’s script fluently, having watched the DVD thirty times or more. The biggest complement is that they talk of being ‘Titty-ish’ or ‘just like Titty’, the little girl whose imagination gave her the strength and courage to excel.

-A carefully made fan letter showing Sophie Neville playing Titty Walker in 1974-

When I went to watch the 2016 film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ being made on location, I warned the actors they were in for the long haul. Although the new adaptation has older children in the cast, and additions to the plot, it was heralded as a great British film, a landscape movie of significance about the thrill of exploring the great outdoors. Broadcast on BBC Two earlier this December and it is out on both Blu ray and DVD. For the Hanway Films billing of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ 2016, please click here.

Swallows and Amazons in Czech

A Czech poster of ‘Swallows & Amazons’ 1974


Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

9 thoughts on “Film adaptations of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on BBC Two”

  1. It’s summertime here and I shall make a point of re-watching Swallows and Amazons (1974) sometime soon.
    Compliments of the season to you, and every good wish for 2019.

  2. Happy New Year!
    Today I’ve started re-reading Swallows book one, and the first film I’ll be watching in 2019 is the classic 1974 adaptation of the same.

    Such timeless tales of British summertime adventure… Swallows & Amazons forever!

    1. That’s great! Do you have a paperback or hardback? Think of joining The Arthur Ransome Society – it has more than 1,000 members. They have a library and a book stall with various editions of Ransome’s books available.

  3. I have said on many occasions, this film is one my all-time favourites and reading this will prompt me into watching it again very soon. As you say, Wilfed Josephs’ music is exceptional and really adds to the whole atmosphere of the film, which is itself very evocative of the book. One of the best if not the best, film adaptations of any book.

      1. That is a trcky one! The Harry Potter, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films are all very good but, due to the complexity of the books in every case, can’t pretend to be a ‘films-of-the-books in the same way as ‘Swallows and Amazons (1974)’. The nearest I can think of offhand, because it is specifically taken from the book rather than the better-known opera, is Cecille B. DeMille’s ‘Carmen’, and that was shot in 1915! At the moment I can’t think of anything else coming close.

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