Swallows and Amazons

Synopsis: On holiday with their mother in the Lake District in 1929 four children are allowed to sail over to the nearby island in their boat Swallow and set up camp for a few days. They soon realise this has been the territory of two other girls who sail the Amazon, and the scene is set for serious rivalry.
Genre: Adventure, Family
92 min


[Steam train]

[Train whistle]

Where are we?

Won't be long now.

The endless trek

through the Sahara desert.

See the camels bravely plod

through the sand.


] At least camels

don't need water.

When I was a child,

we had thousands of sheep

that died during the drought.

- In Australia?

- Yes.

Sheep must be quite pleased

to be English.

Do they have sheep in China?

Of course.

Well, even if Daddy

misses this holiday,

he'll see Chinese sheep

when he gets to Hong Kong.

Where is he now, Mother?

His boat's in Malta,

waiting for orders to sail.

I expect he'd rather be with us.

Of course he would.

He loves the lakes.

He'd be showing you everything.

He'd say:

"Just look at that scenery."

[Train whistle]

[Children laugh]

[Orchestral music]

] Please, can we go exploring?

] It's a little late.

] But it's still light.

We won't be long.

] All right,

but it'll soon be supper time.

] Hello, sir.

] Hello.

[Orchestral music]


'Dear Father, we arrived safely.

'Mother says

I'm to ask your permission

'to build camp

on the island on the lake.

'We have found a boat

that will be quite suitable for the voyage.

'Hope you have a happy voyage

to Hong Kong.

'Please answer soon.

Love, John.'


'P.S. And Susan.'

] 'If we wreck ourselves

on a coral reef,

'we will go down bravely.

'Not that we will.


Love, Titty.'

] 'Please, Daddy,

may I go too?'

] Stand by to go about.

Ready, about.

[Birds chirping and bees buzzing]

[Cows mooing]

Stand by to go about.

Ready, about.

Stand by to go about.

Ready, about.


Well sailed.

ls it the answer?

Does it say yes?

[Chickens clucking]

"Better drowned than duffers,

if not duffers, won't drown."

- Does that mean yes?

- I think so.

But does that mean me too?

Yes, if John and Susan will take you.

And if you do as you're told.

- Shall I go and tell the others?

- All right.

Don't be late for supper.

[Dog barks]

And don't wake Vicky

when you come in.

[Orchestral music]


It's yes, and for me too,

so it must be for Titty as well.

Read it aloud.

"Better drowned than duffers,

if not duffers, won't drown."

- Hurrah for Father!

- What does it mean?

] lt means, that

Father thinks we won't drown,

but if we do, good riddance.

But what does

"duffers, if not duffers" mean?

No, you're wrong.

lt says,

if we were duffers

we might as well be drowned.

Then it stops and starts again,

saying as we are not duffers,

we won't drown.

But why doesn't he just say yes?

[Orchestral music]

] Mrs Jackson,

can we borrow a frying pan?

Yes, certainly, love.

I'm best at buttered eggs.

Are you really?

Most folk are best at boiled.

I don't really count boiled.


You see, on rocky ground

stones are better than pegs

for holding tents down,

except in a high wind.

Father and I often used to sleep in one

when we were young.

Are you really old?

Not really,

it's just I was younger then.



[All laugh]

Da-dit, da-dit,


] Hoist the sail, Mr Mate.

] Aye aye, sir.

Here comes good Queen Bess

to see us off

on our voyage to the Pacific.

Captain Drake,

pull the boom down.

That'll get those

cross wrinkles out.

I wonder if, the real Queen Elizabeth

knew much about ships.

That Queen Elizabeth wasn't brought up

close to Sydney harbour.

] All aboard.

] Come on, let's go.

- Right!

- Have you got everything?

- I've checked the list.


One might almost say, "By gum,

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Arthur Ransome

Arthur Michell Ransome (18 January 1884 – 3 June 1967) was an English author and journalist. He is best known for writing the Swallows and Amazons series of children's books about the school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. The books remain popular and "Swallows and Amazons" is the basis for a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water, the two lakes Ransome adapted as his fictional North Country lake. He also wrote about the literary life of London, and about Russia before, during, and after the revolutions of 1917. His connection with the leaders of the Revolution led to him providing information to the Secret Intelligence Service while he was also suspected of being a Soviet spy by MI5. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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