“We’re aware that we needed to be truthful to the characters of the children, the period, the story itself, but at the same time present a film that could compete with big, modern day action adventure films.” (Nick Barton – Harbour Pictures Productions)
August 19th 2016 has been confirmed as the release date for the new big-screen adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic adventure – Swallows and Amazons. Filming originally began in the Lake District at Derwentwater and Coniston water last June (2015) and is now in the final stages of post-production. It will also mark the feature film debut of veteran television director, Philippa Lowthorpe (Jamiaca Inn, Call the Midwife). Preparing for the shoot last year she enthused, “Watching the young actors learn to sail so brilliantly in our Swallow and Amazon, has been a great thrill. I can’t wait to bring this world of pure adventure to life.” A strong British cast includes: Rafe Spall (Life of Pi), Kelly MacDonald (Brave) and Sherlock star Andrew Scott, with support from Jessica Hynes (Shaun of the Dead) and comedian Harry Enfield (Kevin and Perry Go Large). The Walker and Blackett children are played by a host of newcomers: Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, Bobby McCulloch, Seren Hawkes and Hannah Jayne Thorp.
The screenplay was adapted by writer and actress Andrea Gibb (Dear Frankie), who has updated the story to incorporate elements of Ransome’s extraordinary past. In a recent article, producer Nick Barton (Harbour Pictures Productions) explained the re-booted version had been partly inspired by the author’s work for M16 in Russia, where “the real dangers of an adult world on the brink of war encroach in the form of a mysterious pair of Russian spies hot on the tail of the enigmatic Jim Turner.” However, the main bulk of the story remains faithful to the novel – following four children dreaming of an escape from the tedium of a summer holiday with their mother. She lets them camp on a remote island in the middle of a vast lake, but they soon discover they may not be alone. A battle begins for ownership of the island, where they learn survival skills and the value of friendship, which helps prepare them for the real dangers of the adult world.
Filmed on location in the Lake District, Yorkshire and Scotland, BBC Films and the BFI developed the project along with the production company, Harbour Pictures. The film will undoubtedly showcase some of the most spectacular scenery in Britain. But like Claude Whatham’s 1974 original, I’m sure it will be the scenes of sailing and camping in the Lakes that fire the imagination of a new generation of fans…