The film ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) was screened at the Belfast Film Festival. Curiously, the ‘Terms and Conditions of Entry’ specified:
CHILDREN UNDER 16 MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT
NO GLASSWARE OR CANS PERMITTED ON SITE
NO BARBEQUES OR NAKED FLAMES
This was ironic since, ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is about children cooking on campfires, eating canned bully beef or ‘pemmican’ while swigging ‘grog’ out of bottles, as far as possible form adult supervision. However, the movie was shown outside – on a huge screen under the trees opposite Belfast City Hall. ‘THIS OUTDOOR EVENT’, they declared, ‘WILL HAPPEN REGARDLESS OF WEATHER CONDITIONS’. Since the story is about camping this did seem apt but as you can see from the photograph above, it was an idyllic sunny summer’s day.
‘How lovely…we love seeing this wonderful film,’ Gerry Spiller said.
‘My Mother took me to see the film when it was first released, it was in a double bill with ‘Born Free’, which also had Virginia McKenna in. In those days you could just sit in the cinema and see the film again if you wanted to. We did.’ Jon Ford
‘Ok, a confession. When I was twelve I was a spoilt little brat. My parents had decided to take my brothers and I out for a surprise. I refused to go until I was told what it was as I hated surprises. My parents wouldn’t tell me so I very nearly didn’t go. I went only after being told by my big brother that if I didn’t he would hit me. The surprise? A trip to the cinema to see Swallows and Amazons! ‘ Marc Grimston, Author
‘Can’t believe how long ago it was. I remember going to see the film at the Aylesbury Odeon and loving it.’ Kate Pearson
‘… the first film I saw in a cinema, Swallows & Amazons, ABC Colchester April 1974. Cinema now a pub.’ Fabian Breckels on Twitter
‘It was on at the local cinema. My son was too young to go so I offered to take a neighbour’s child on condition that the neighbour’s older child baby-sat for me.’ Janet Mearns
‘One of my all time favourite films. Watched it just the other day in fact. I never seem tire of it. Especially after a trip to the Lakes.’ John Heath
‘I don’t know why we missed it when it was first shown (I was six at the time)… it came back to the cinema for another showing a few years later and the place was almost empty, so it felt as if they’d put it on specially for us.’ David Cooper
‘Rather like David, missed it as a child. Which makes me rather sad in retrospect. Had no idea it existed until I discovered it through ‘Google’! a few years ago. I now have two copies of it on DVD.’ Paul Thomas
‘I was 11 when the film came out and I was already a huge S&A fan. I loved the film and you, well Titty really, she became my first ever crush. Thank you for the excellent portrayal of Titty. Thanks also on behalf of my own daughters who also fell in love with the film, probably due to my regular screenings!’ Mike Embleton
‘I finally got to see it while we stayed at Bank Ground Farm our first visit to England. Loved it, cried over it, was delighted to finally see it after many years of sharing a love of Swallows & Amazons books with my mother, my sisters & my children! Mrs. Batty kindly put it on for us to watch in the farmhouse living room.’ Elizabeth Rondthaler Jolley, USA
‘It was two years ago in my 36th year. I found it somewhere on internet after I have read the first (book) to my son. And then we watched together. It was perfect. In Czech republic where I live, Ransome was in my childhood one of the most favourite authors.’ Jiri Precek, Romania
‘In June 1973 I was 9 months into my 3 year teacher training course at Didsbury Teacher Training College… It was not for many years – probably 15 that I contacted Cape for info about locations – still have the reply !!’
‘I was 9 in 1974 and saw the film about four times that summer (I think it was shown with Born Free as a double feature) and I had a huge crush on Lesley Bennett! (Where is she now?) I read all the books several times over during the 70’s . Reading your memories made me re-read the book and watch the film for the first time since the 70’s and I have to say the film holds up very well!’ Richard Meads, Worthing, West Sussex
The DVD reviewer Stuart McLean writes: ‘The cast were pretty much the same age as me in 1973 (when it was filmed) and I remember enjoying this tremendously when it came out in 1974, forty years ago. Back then, the idea that four school-kids could take off in a boat for days at a time with no life-jackets seemed perfectly plausible. These days it would be cause for 24 hour rolling news reports.’ Please click here to read on.
Simon Hodkin first went to see Swallows & Amazons in Wales some forty years ago. He kept a scrapbook full of souvenirs, including a letter from Arthur Ransome.
Can you remember the first time you saw the film? Please add to the Comments box.