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Swing Kids Review

Image for Swing Kids
★★★★★

"They wore their hair long, they fought the Nazis and they called themselves The Swing Kids," proclaims the introduction to what is, beneath the Disney fluff, a rather interesting insight into the lives of German youths growing up during the Third Reich of the 1930s.

Based on a true story, this shows just how far Nazi persecution extended, beating about the ears and ultimately carting off to labour camps the jazz-loving teenagers who wore American fashions and listened to Benny Goodman records - all deemed impure by the authorities. The Nazi jackboots are particularly concerned with kicking the lederhosen of Peter (Leonard) and Thomas (Bale) who attempt to resist the obligatory enrolment to the Hitler Youth but once forcibly enlisted persist with listening to their subversive "negro-Jewish" music - a plot constructed around the bullying of their disabled guitarist friend Arvid (Whalley) and Peter's mum (Hershey) who gets chatted up by the head of the Gestapo (an unbilled Kenneth Branagh).

With caricatured "we haf vays of making you tock"-type Germans, ham-fisted slogans - "Schwing Heil" being the cringe-worthy rallying cry of the dissident youths - and a rather outlandish conclusion that "a new generation of Swing Kids survived to defeat the Nazis" (er, surely it had more to do with the combined Allied forces?), it does get rather silly in places. Nonetheless, for its historical detail and recognition that teenagers were around long before James Dean sparked up a Marlboro, this film deserves some credit.