12 March 2013

Swing Kids

Swing Kids 1993
  • Director: Thomas Carter
  • Based on Book:
  • Cast: Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Barbara Hershey, Kenneth Branagh (uncredited!!!)
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Kenneth Branagh: everything he’s done
    • Robert Sean Leonard: Much Ado About Nothing, The Last Days of Disco, Dead Poet’s Society
    • Christian Bale: the boy in Branagh’s Henry V, Batman of course, Equilibrium
    • Barbara Hershey: I don’t know but she’s been in a lot of movies!
  • Why bought: Kenneth Branagh, WWII, jazz music, the cast in general, cheap.
  • Seen: once – August 25, 2012

This is not a great movie.  It’s altogether too slick and American with a predictable development: rebellious boys against oppressive society. The actual courage and deep love of swing shown by the historical kids in Nazi Germany of the 1930’s is in this film cute and superficial when it should have been deeply moving.  The figures are pure cliché, the politics slicked over and Americanized (“of course he wasn’t a communist!” when in reality he, the resistant and arrested father, probably was).
It was made the same year as Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh and Robert Sean Leonard together there too!), which seems odd.
The cast, in spite of everything is good and they do what they can with inferior material.  It’s fun to see Christian Bale so young (though he was even younger in Branagh’s Henry V) – hints of Batman are already visible.  But it’s a scandal that Branagh isn’t credited?!?! How could that have happened?
The dancing is great and it was very interesting to get a new angle on the Nazi suppression of black music that I hadn’t known about, in spite of my life-long interest in WWII.
The bad parts and the good parts weigh about equally here, therefore 2 ½ * out of 5.

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