The Nancy Blackett Trust presented another screening of the classic film ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) at the Riverside in Woodbridge. The cinema was celebrating 100 years of film and were thrilled to welcome a large and enthusiastic audience of 250, made up of children and Arthur Ransome enthusiasts one of whom told us he saw the film in Shaftesbury Avenue when it first came out.
Swallow, the original dinghy used in the film was on display outside the cinema and I went along to answer questions about how the movie was made. Here are some of those asked by children in the audience:
Had you ever been on a boat before you started filming? Yes, my father was a great sailor and I’d crewed for him. As Titty, I had to row quite a bit – back from the charcoal burners, later when I captured Amazon and alongside Roger when we went to find the treasure on Cormorant Island.
How did you do the night time? We used Mrs Batty’s barn at Bank Ground Farm as a studio.
Which lake did you film on? Arthur Ransome wrote about an imaginary lake based on real places that we found on Windermere, Coniston Water, Derwentwater, Elterwater and a smelly lilly pond. the great thing is that you can go and find them too.
After the film screening, I was told that students on the Open University Children’s Literature course with study Arthur Ransome’s classic book ‘Swallows and Amazons’, which is good news, especially since the BBC News headline rang out the question: Do children still need to read the classics of English Literature? Declaring, ‘Gone from bedroom bookshelves are the Famous Five, The Chronicles of Narnia,and the adventures of the Swallows and Amazons.’
Is this true? Do leave your comments below – or contact the BBC!
The marine artist Claudia Myatt with Swallow outside the Riverside in Woodbridge. You can see her website here
Photos by Charmain S Berry for the Riverside
You can read more about the secrets of filming Swallows and Amazons in any of these editions available online: