Swing Kids, originally released theatrically in 1993, was directed by Thomas Carter. Starring in the film are: Robert Sean Leonard (Peter), Christian Bale (Thomas), Frank Whaley (Arvid), Barbara Hershey (Frau Muller), Noah Wyle (Emil), and Kenneth Branagh.
In the late 30s, many German teenagers rebelled against joining Nazi youth organizations (Hitler's Judgend or the H.J. for short), instead choosing to watch American films, dress in British fashions, and listen to swing music. These teens were known as Swing Kids.
Peter, Arvid, and Thomas were three such 'Swing Kids,' often attending music clubs at night, and were totally against joining the Nazi party. However, after getting caught stealing a radio, Peter has little choice other than to join the H.J.s to stay out of trouble. Thomas joins as well, refusing to let his friend venture in alone. As H.J.s, each begins to change, slowly subverted by the propaganda, which starts to turn them against their friends, and eventually, each other.
In all the history courses I took over the years, I don't think I ever remember hearing of any 'Swing Kids' during Nazi-controlled Germany. Always interested in history, especially the kind that's overlooked, I went into the film with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised. Most interesting to me was how the film portrays the propaganda of the time, and how it can work and subvert people, especially when you have no other viewpoints. All the actors put in some great performances with their roles, and the dancing, while adequate, could've used a bit more polish. The swing music, though, is great, and quite uplifting.
Swing Kids is presented 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer fares reasonably well throughout, containing only a few minor print flaws and some slight grain in a few scenes. Colors are natural, with accurate flesh tones, and deep blacks.
Swing Kids is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround in English. The 5.1 track is firmly anchored in the front soundstage, with little in the way of discrete surrounds. The rear channels are used exclusively for the film's score and background ambience. Dialogue is clean throughout the film, with no distortion. Optional captions are available in English.
Swing Kids is an entertaining and interesting film about a different side of Nazi Germany that is often overlooked. Buena Vista's DVD provides the film with an adequate presentation and no extras, though with a low MSRP, fans should have no reservations about picking up a copy.