6.8/10
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120 user 16 critic

Swing Kids (1993)

PG-13 | | Drama, Music | 5 March 1993 (USA)
A group of teens adores forbidden music in Nazi Germany just before the outbreak of World War II.

Director:

Thomas Carter
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Sean Leonard ... Peter Müller
Christian Bale ... Thomas Berger
Frank Whaley ... Arvid
Barbara Hershey ... Frau Müller
Tushka Bergen ... Evey
David Tom ... Willi Müller
Julia Stemberger Julia Stemberger ... Frau Linge
Jayce Bartok ... Otto
Noah Wyle ... Emil Lutz
Johan Leysen ... Herr Schumler
Douglas Roberts ... Herr Hinz
Martin Clunes ... Bannführer
Jessica Hynes ... Helga (as Jessica Stevenson)
Carl Brincat Carl Brincat ... H.J. Thug
Mary Fogarty Mary Fogarty ... Mama Klara Müller (as Mary Fogerty)
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Storyline

A close-knit group of young kids in Nazi Germany listen to banned swing music from the U.S. Soon, dancing and fun lead to more difficult choices, as the Nazis begin tightening their grip on Germany. Each member of the group is forced to face some tough choices about right, wrong, and survival. Written by Susan Southall <stobchatay@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In a world on the brink of war. You either march to one tune or dance to another. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kenneth Branagh was 31 years old when he played adult man Herr Knopp in the movie while Frank Whaley, was 28 when he played teenager Arvid. See more »

Goofs

In an establishing shot just after the Nazis steal the radio, the rear half of a Vauxhall Wyvern can be seen parked on the street; this car was not introduced until 1948. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Berger: Look who we have here, Peter's priss. Have you talked to her yet?
Peter Müller: Who says I'm interested?
Thomas Berger: Your tongue was on the floor.
See more »


Soundtracks

Polka Parade
Written by Chris Boardman
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User Reviews

 
A Useful Approach
20 October 2005 | by JackCerfSee all my reviews

The central characters in this movie are unpolitical teenagers who have no concern with the larger political issues of Naziism and simply want to enjoy themselves. Their only perspective is that Nazis are stuffy, conformist jerks and no fun at all. For this reason, a number of mainstream critics (among them Ebert and Berardinelli) trashed the picture for trivializing the crimes and horrors of the Third Reich. These critics, I think, miss the point.

The value of the movie is precisely that it is trivial. There is no hindsight. The audience, like the characters, is caught up in the everydayness of everyday life in a totalitarian state. The Nazis are the government, and as far as anyone can see in 1938-39 they are going to go on being the government forever. The war hasn't happened yet. The Swastika flag flying over every post office and courthouse doesn't give them a little shudder of horror; it's as normal as the Stars and Stripes is to us. All sensible, respectable people who aren't Nazis themselves go along with the Nazis, because they have no reason not to.

Auschwitz hasn't happened yet either. Sure, there are concentration camps out there somewhere, but that has nothing to do with normal, ordinary people who behave themselves. Unless you happen to know a Jew or a political dissident yourself, what the government is doing to people like that isn't your problem.

The teen-aged lead characters find themselves in opposition and in trouble, not because they have any principled objections to the government, but simply because they find respectable culture boring and want to amuse themselves. The first reaction of authority, in the person of Kenneth Branagh's kindly Gestapo man, is that all they need is a good talking to, a second chance, and a little constructive guidance in the Hitler Youth and they'll grow up to be good citizens. He's fifty percent right; Thomas does respond positively to the comradeship and healthy outdoor activity he finds there.

The ultimate choices made by the two boys are governed not by principle but by their personal situations. Thomas has been rebelling against his cold, pompous, wealthy father, whom he loathes, and he ultimately decides that being a dutiful Nazi and denouncing the old man to the Gestapo offers him much better revenge than dancing to illegal jazz records. Peter recoils from the Hitler Youth (and from his former friend) because his own father had disappeared, perhaps into the camps, after the Nazis took power several years earlier.

There's's no hindsight in the movie's perspective, and no heroism. Instead, it gives us ordinary, everyday people dealing with ordinary everyday life as they find it, from the viewpoint of a high school student. The movie leads the adolescents who are its target audience to ask themselves an unpleasant question -- would they be any different, any more politically aware, if they were in the same situation? Indeed, would they even realize it if they were actually in the same situation now?

The implicit answer is that they probably wouldn't be all that different from ordinary non-political German teenagers in 1938, minding their own business, going about their own lives, and at most trying to carve a little more personal space than the government wants to give them. That's disconcerting and not at all flattering, which is why Swing Kids is worth watching.


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Details

Country:

USA | Czech Republic

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 March 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Swing Kids See more »

Filming Locations:

Prague, Czech Republic

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,967,957, 7 March 1993

Gross USA:

$5,632,086

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,632,086
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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