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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Swiss Family Robinson is a 1960 Disney movie in which an 18th-century family on a boat bound for New Guinea shipwreck on a deserted island. Although there's no bloodshed, the violence looks real as the Robinsons do battle with a wide array of animals (sharks, tigers, snakes, etc.), as well as pirates. The pirates who attack the family appear as Asian stereotypes. A teen girl is stereotyped as a helpless damsel unable to survive in the wild without the help of the teen boys. The Robinsons fight, kill, and injure the pirates with swords, rifles, and a variety of improvised defenses such as homemade grenades, explosives, rocks, logs, and a pit occupied by a tiger. Animal lovers will dislike the way the youngest child captures wild animals to keep for himself. The teen brothers joke that by the time they get off the island, they won't care what age the women they see are.
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What's the story?
A shipwrecked family, the SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, sets out to make the best of their situation on a deserted island in this classic Disney film based on the book by Johann David Wyss. The Robinson family creates inventive homemade gadgets (most notably, a fabulous tree house), far outdoing the castaways on Gilligan's Island. But their new life isn't all fun and games as they battle pirates and wild animals.
Is it any good?
This film is a good introduction for kids reluctant to watch old movies. Shot on the island of Tobago, Swiss Family Robinson has gorgeous scenery and cleverly designed sets. Adults may occasionally wince at the stilted performances, but kids will be too wrapped up to care. Children may be enthralled by the animals but find the tiger and snake scary. Parents should note that the violence against the pirates, particularly in the battle scenes, could be a problem for younger viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it might really be like to be stranded somewhere far away from home like the family in Swiss Family Robinson. What should you do if you're ever in a tough situation like this?
Families can also discuss the stereotypes featured in the movie. How has our culture changed since this movie was made? Why wouldn't the same characterizations be OK today?
- In theaters: December 21, 1960
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2002
- Cast: Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, John Mills
- Director: Ken Annakin
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Pirates
- Character Strengths: Courage, Gratitude, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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