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Swing Kids [VHS] (1993)

Robert Sean Leonard , Christian Bale , Thomas Carter  |  PG-13 |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley, Barbara Hershey, Tushka Bergen
  • Directors: Thomas Carter
  • Writers: Jonathan Marc Feldman
  • Producers: Christopher Meledandri, Frank Marshall, Harry Benn, John Bard Manulis, Mark Gordon
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • VHS Release Date: July 8, 1997
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302805392
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,222 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

American Swing music in Nazi germany


This strange movie with a niche subject--jazz-loving, dance-loving German kids persecuted by Hitler's men--almost works, thanks to a good cast who seem devoted to the unusual story line. Director Thomas Carter doesn't bring the necessary stylistic oomph to the musical sequences, something that might have pushed the whole production to another, more interesting level of Hollywood dream. Kenneth Branagh makes a particularly effective, wolf-in-sheep's-clothing Nazi official. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 57 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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46 of 48 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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25 of 26 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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swing Heil With Style January 11, 2000
By Konrei
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Swing Kids" is A fight for freedom June 25, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"Swing Kids" was truly a fabulous movie. Its a movie about the Nazi's in the time of Hitlers reign. The characters in this movie are astounding, and the actors who portray them put on a brilliant performance. Robert Sean Leonard as Peter, a young man who has made close friends with a group of boys who all have one thing in common that brought them together...swing music, and swing dancing. To which the german nazi's did not approve of. Peter ends up having to become an H.J. Which are basically nazi's in training...It is a fight to maintain balance in a society with no balance. As the video says on the cover, "They fought for the freedom that bound them together" Truly a great movie...I rave to much, and I really hope they re-release it cause I would LOVE to purchase this video! But I won't if it costs to much...that I must say! BUT RENT IT if you cannot purchase it! Another fabulous actor in it is Christian Bale who has done a very fine job in his career and has appeared in such movies as "Newsies" "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and coming Soon "All The Little Animals" and many more. He portrays Peters Best friend Thomas in this movie, and a lot of things between Peter and Thomas change, however, their friendship remains just in a different way as the movie goes. Watch it...you'll love it.
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