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The Girl in a Swing (1988)

A London art broker goes to Copenhagen where he requires the services of a secretary fluent in Danish, English, and German. He falls deeply in love with the woman, despite the fact that he ... See full summary »


Gordon Hessler


Richard Adams (novel), Gordon Hessler




Cast overview, first billed only:
Meg Tilly ... Karin Foster
Rupert Frazer ... Alan Dresland
Nicholas Le Prevost ... The Vicar
Elspet Gray ... Mrs. Dresland
Lynsey Baxter ... Barbara
Jean Boht Jean Boht ... Mrs. Taswell
Lorna Heilbron ... Flick
Hanne Borchsenius Hanne Borchsenius ... Jytte Borgen
Ljuba Castot Ljuba Castot ... Child in Water
Helen Cherry ... Lady Alice
Mogens Dalsgaard Mogens Dalsgaard ... Concert Pianist
William 'Duke' Meeks William 'Duke' Meeks ... Mr. Steinberg (as Duke)
Su Elliot Su Elliot ... Nurse
June Ellis June Ellis ... Lady at Auction
Patrick Godfrey ... Coroner


A London art broker goes to Copenhagen where he requires the services of a secretary fluent in Danish, English, and German. He falls deeply in love with the woman, despite the fact that he knows virtually nothing about her. She insists on not being married in a church, and after they are married, some bad things from her past begin surfacing in subtly supernatural ways, and he must find the best way to deal with them without destroying their relationship. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Last cinema role of Helen Cherry. See more »

User Reviews

A poor substitute for the novel.
27 August 2001 | by awalter1See all my reviews

Alan Desland is a cultivated English bachelor who has taken over his family's antique porcelain business. On a business trip to Copenhagen, he meets and immediately falls in love with Karin, a stunning German beauty. After only a couple of weeks they marry, honeymoon, and settle into life in Alan's hometown. At first their erotically charged relationship seems like paradise, but this, of course, cannot last. Karin has told Alan virtually nothing of her past, and her dark secret eventually manifests with supernatural trappings and threatens everything.

"The Girl in a Swing" is based on the 1980 novel by Richard "Watership Down" Adams. The film has one thing going for it; the script does an admirable job of lining up and hitting a good number of the novel's main plot points and scenes. Otherwise, this overwrought melodrama has little to recommend it.

There is so much to criticize--from the passionless direction to the insipid soundtrack, awful costuming, and poor casting. Meg Tilly in the role of Karin is particularly troublesome. While she is a fairly attractive woman, she does not project the sort of unearthly eroticism that the character requires. Worse, her muddled, affected German accent obscures most of her dialogue. When Tilly isn't screeching "Alan!" she is mumbling and slurring her most important lines. Director Gordon Hessler does little to salvage things, as he opts to film most of the important supernatural and erotic sequences in one of two modes--either flat or melodramatic.

While very few films adapted from novels can attain the dense subtext of their source material, such a film might at least evoke the essence of the story by establishing a strong mood consistent with the novelist's vision. This film, however, aspires to nothing so worthy. It neither succeeds as an adaptation of Adams' complex novel nor as a worthy cinematic effort in its own right.

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Release Date:

29 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Girl in a Swing See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Panorama See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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