Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review of "The Making of Swallows and Amazons"

Having rediscovered Sophie Neville through her blogs and recent autobiographical books, I was really pleased to learn of this latest book. It is a full account, largely from her own perspective, of the process of making the 1973 family film of "Swallows and Amazons".

I was a great fan of Ransome's books as a child, and loved the film when I discovered it. These recollections are published as a remastered version of the film is made available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and for people who are interested in the film itself, or its relationship with the book, it will provide as important a work of reference as Christina Hardyment's books. Additionally, it provides an insight into the painstaking process of making a film in the 1970s - at least from the perspective of a child actor (plus gathered reminiscences from other participants) - and this itself offers some insight into such diverse facets of 1970s life as public transport, health and safety, and diet!

As always, Sophie's writing is a pleasant, easy read. The book includes large numbers of photographs, both monochrome and colour, and she has gathered comprehensive information about just about everybody who was involved in the film-making process - it is interesting how widely people involved in this film spread out across the industry afterwards. This is much more than a book for "completists" or "obsessives" - as with her other books, Sophie has invested the factual elements of a significant moment of her life with the very human reminiscences that shaped it, to create a book that would be an enjoyable and interesting read almost regardless of a person's interest in the film itself.