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Swing Kids (1993)

Christian Bale , Barbara Hershey , Jerzy Zielinski , Thomas Carter  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christian Bale, Barbara Hershey, Robert Sean Leonard, David Robb, Julia Stemberger
  • Directors: Jerzy Zielinski, Thomas Carter
  • Writers: Jonathan Marc Feldman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000065V3W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,078 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Swing Kids" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In 1939, Nazi Germany declares war on freedom and demands conformity from its youth. But a group calling themselves Swing Kids rebel with their "swing music" from America. When two of them dare to stand up against the powerful forces around them -- traditions will be broken and loyalties must be crossed! Robert Sean Leonard (DEAD POETS SOCIETY) and Christian Bale (SHAFT, AMERICAN PSYCHO) deliver gripping performances as two friends who must choose between their individual freedom or loyalty to the murderous Third Reich. Also featuring screen favorite Barbara Hershey (BEACHES, TIN MEN), SWING KIDS is an inspirational and powerful story about friendship -- and finding the courage to fight for what you believe in!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME MOVIE FOR TEACHING WWII March 1, 2005
I teach 11th grade and when we reach WWII I have been looking for a movie which is good enough for the kids to see that doesn't just show blood and guts. Many of the kids can't fathom why an entire nation would just follow a man bent on the destruction of another race. This movie gives them a new viewpoint, a kid's viewpoint, that they can relate to. They can understand that not everyone wanted to go along, not everyone agreed but few were capable of standing up and sticking to their beliefs. The brainwashing techniques, the pressure from peers, family and fear made it easier for Hitler to gain and maintain control of Germany. I begin WWII with a brief explanation of the conditions existing in Europe when Hitler rose to power and then show this movie. My students always enjoy the movie and come away from viewing it with a better understanding of how Hitler got into power. I highly recommend this film for teaching and/or just enjoying.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical subject October 12, 2003
This movie gives a new angle on Pre - WW2 German society. The title's 'Swing Kids' are German youngsters who were interested in British and American slag & fashions. Since Germany's official policy towards America & Britain wasn't very sympathetic at the time (to say the least), Swing hangouts were routinely searched for by HJ's ("Hitler Junged" - Hilter's Youths), Swing Kids were targeted by them, and Swing music was hard to find.
The movie's three main characters are caught in the struggle between Swing music and the pressureto join the HJ's. Arvid, who is partially paralized, and is therefore 'unacceptable' by the Nazis, is a rabid Swing fan (which a large part of is a rebellion against the people who won't accept him). Peter is struggling with his father's 'disappearance' (he was taken by the Nazis a few years before the events of the movie). Thomas is just looking for acceptance, which he doesn't seem to get from his family or friends, so he willingly turns into a HJ - just to satisfy his need. The friends split up, turn against each other, and each goes towards his tragic end.
The story in itself is predictable, but since the performances of the actors are quite good, and the period and subject matter of the films are not your obvious WW2 movies, it is a very enjoyable one (even just for knowldge's sake).
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film of swing and moral struggle December 24, 2003
Anyone who has stepped on to the dance floor with a live swing band playing knows just how well Swing Kids captures the electricity of a night of swing. Anyone who has strapped on their best duds an hour earlier knows the romance and anticipation captured perfectly as Peter Muller (Robert Sean Leonard) dresses for his last night of swing. This movie was in no small measure part of the impetus for the swing revival in the mid 90's, and I personally get "in the mood" for a night of cuttin' rug with Janis Siegel's incredible rendition of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" from the film.

But what makes this film truly superlative is its honest dealings with ordinary Germans' motivations for complacency towards or participation in Nazism. In Nazi Germany it was in everybody's best interest (save the Jews) to play along. From Peter's mother who just wants her children to live happily and avoid the terrible fate of their father to Thomas Berger (Christian Bale) who finds acceptance and encouragement for the first time, they do so for the reasons that would tempt each of us sorely. The horrible truth of the Holocaust is that, like the Germans, very few of us possess the selflessness and moral courage it would have required to oppose the evil tide of Nazism. Swing Kids is almost alone in its portrayal of this chilling truth among Holocaust and World War II films. Robert Sean Leonard's portrayal of this moral struggle for understanding and courage is very moving. (Of course, there's noone better at playing angst-ridden. c.f. Dead Poet's Society.)

As he dances his last dance, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, the world spinning around him, he finds a rare kind of release that is perhaps found only on the dance floor. And yes, his brother's cries, "Swing Heil! Swing Heil!", in the final scene give me a lump in the throat every time. For all these reasons and more, Swing Kids is an excellent film. Shame that there are no extras on the DVD.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-have for anyone seriously interested in movies. April 21, 2002
I came across Swing Kids purely by accident when I was zapping away one night. The movie intrigued me; Rebel kids in a WW2 setting of Nazi Germany, dancing at government-banned parties, and listening to banned (swing) records. One of them gets forced to join the Hitler-jugend, and since then gets despised by most of his friends, except for his best friend, who actually joins as well, as to offer his support. They end up on opposite sides; one gets indoctrinated by the Nazis, while the other still strongly opposes the whole concept.
I am NOT going to spoil the plot any further, but ever since I saw this very movie (about two years ago or so) I have been trying to add it to my collection. This movie would be one of my top-3 in my (already huge (approaching 200 now)) collection, following up Lord of the Rings and Pulp fiction. The cast is awesome, their action is extraordinary, the music is excellent (anyone know any dancing schools in Holland that teach Swing-Dancing?), and the story is just great.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swing Heil With Style January 11, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
SWING KIDS is an artful sleeper. The story of young friends addicted to forbidden big band music in 1939 Nazi Germany is told with humor, pathos, and sensitivity. At first all addicted to visiting Swing clubs, jitterbugging with pretty girls, and gathering for secret meetings of their fan club, the characters slowly and irrevocably drift apart as the unbearable pressures of conformity in Nazi Germany rob them of their innocence and youth.
This movie is relatively unknown, but excellent nonetheless. Keep an eye out for a young Noah Wyle ("Dr. Carter" on ER) as a Hitler Youth group leader. The music is splendid.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Swing Kids makes you think
I liked this show a lot. It taught us a lot about the things that were going on in Germany during that time period. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Susan Dalton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
My daughter and I loved this movie. Definitely a sad movie, but a great historical drama. DVD was in perfect shape. We purchased it "used."
Published 1 month ago by Houtzwife
5.0 out of 5 stars At Least there were a few - very few Dissenters
Movies/stories like this dissent in Nazi infested Germany are excellent in showing there were a few - a very few - who were outspoken in dissent, but it was typically... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lemar D Remel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
This is a movie that didn't get much attention because of the subject, you know swing music and Nazi's. Read more
Published 1 month ago by steve barron
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie to teach about Hitler Youth
It is a great teaching aid. I use it to teach about the Hitler Youth and forms of resistance in Nazi Germany.
Published 1 month ago by Clinton Hough
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rest of the Story...or part of it
While the persecution and systematic extermination of undesirables (mostly Jews) in Germany under the Nazis is appropriately and widely documented, the stories of German citizens... Read more
Published 1 month ago by pianeciamo
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and enlightening
I encountered the 'Swing Kids' while reading Ken Folett's novel, WINTER OF THE WORLD, and wanted to know more about the movement, This movie filled that bill very nicely. Read more
Published 1 month ago by George E. Dawson
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea for a script, poorly delivered
I liked the idea of this movie but, had it not been for the swastikas, I looked as if it was anyplace other than Hamburg in 1939. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lois Reimer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film!
Provides insight about Germany and the rise of Hitler's push to remove all ideologies other than the Teutonic, Aryan idealism he wished to infuse in his Nazi Regime. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Janet Gagej
4.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad.
Good music, fun dancing, decent acting and at times a very thought provoking story. At times I worried that it might be trivializing the Nazi's rise to power but they did just... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Carey
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