Monday, 16 June 2008

Swallows and Amazons - the movie?

It was with enormous pleasure that I read, some months ago now, the news that BBC Films were going to make a new big-screen version of Swallows and Amazons and that they were busy securing the rights to the other books. The thought that, following Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Harry Potter, the Swallows and the Amazons would be the big new movie franchise filled me with excitement and anticipation. I'm not a great fan of J.K. Rowling or C.S. Lewis (though I've enjoyed reading most of their books and watching the films) but I am a Tolkien geek and, as such, enjoyed the build-up to the release of Peter Jackson's movies almost as much as the films themselves (and I'm already getting excited about the Hobbit!) The internet was full of 'Lord of the Rings Movie - rumours and gossip' websites. People with strange online pseudonyms like 'Eowyn' and 'Durin' quarrelled wonderfully about whether Bob Hoskins would make a good Bilbo Baggins, whether Tom Bombadil would play any part (and who was he?), whether Sam would be a girl, and whether the Balrog should have wings! 'Ringer Spies' fed back information about locations, cast members, possible plot alterations, etc, etc.

Now it's not surprising that there should be rather more of a geeky, online Tolkien community than we have for Arthur Ransome. But we can be pretty darn geeky when we want to be. Don't get us started on mousing sisterhooks, or the plumbing in Beckfoot. But we have been surprisingly quiet about the proposed films. And no new news has been emerging from BBC Films.

Do we know if principle photography has started?

Have we any casting news (of course we're unlikely to know the stars, but it is quite likely that Mother, Captain Flint and other adult characters will be well-known cameos)?

Do we know or can we guess anything about locations? Some present themselves very easily, others are more problematic. Even 'Rio' is harder than it was for the 1970s film-makers. The concrete cafe/nightclub will be hard to make disappear.

Will they use special effects? Think of the Lord of the Rings - the landscapes are incredibly real - and that's because they ARE real locations - but ingenious use of modern technology created synthesis landscapes, with grasslands from one part of New Zealand, mountains from another, and misnamed, enormous 'miniatures' located entirely convincingly in the heart of these landscapes. Does this provide the film-maker with the opportunity to recreate Ransome's Lake in the North in a way that none of the lakes quite offer? Friar's Crag could jut out from the east shore of Windermere, which itself could have the Old Man at its head, etc, etc. Or would this be pushing the budget too far?

Do any TARs (Arthur Ransome Society members) know if approaches have been made to use any of the original boats? After all, classic lugsail dingheys are not two-a-penny. Will the Esperance be the Houseboat?

Really when you think about it, there's more than enough to speculate wildly about. So I do wonder - why aren't we!? Please feel free to use the comments facility here to do so to your heart's content!!