Movie Review: Swing Kids

5 Feb

Dance is a form of movement. Not just the one made by the body to the rhythm of the music, but how people unite and become a strong unit to protect their society. It is a creative yet powerful way to rebel against those who fail to understand one’s ideals and belief. It’s inviting and moving.

Swing Kids is a movie about a group of kids, the “Swing Kids”, whose passion was dancing the Swing or Jitterbug. The Nazis tried to control their “dance parties” as they believe that through their music and dance, they are rebelling against Hitler and Nazism. Occasionally these kids got into fights with the brownshirts of the Hitler Youth brigades. This was in Nazi Germany during 1939.

The main plot of the movie is not really dancing but how it creates a powerful way of self expression and idealism. Instead of joining the Army, Peter, Thomas and the rest of their group used dance as a form of political outlet. Since during this period, Hitler was already proposing a holocaust against the Jews, the Swing Kids did not allow themselves to be pressured to join HJ, because they would rather do something that they are passionate about than embark themselves into a world where they know they will end up dead. But due to a bad timing of stealing a baker’s radio, Peter was forced to join HJ. Thomas, claiming he is Peter’s friend, joined HJ as well to give Peter his support. They were both enjoying the best of both worlds: HJ in the morning; being Swing Kids at night. Unfortunately, Thomas was brainwashed into the Nazi ideals and clouded his judgement. This cause the life of one of their friends. War was between the two friends and eventually, Peter had to resign himself to what he truly loves to do, dancing. At the end, he ended up being joined in the work group just because he stuck with his belief that he would rather be free than become a Nazi.

In the movie, it was shown that dancing was prohibited during the Hitler period because the Nazis believe that the music that was played during dance parties brings hidden message to the people who join. And since they don’t play German/Nazi music, they are threatened that their people will be turning against them. This clearly shows that dancing can be a very successful propaganda when dealing with political issues. Even the music that is being played affected the beliefs of the Nazis that’s why they would require the song played on the radio be a German song. This shows their nationalism.

Even if I got dizzy watching the actors dance in the film (due to fast and jerky movements. I’m a ballerina, I’m used to seeing fluid and graceful movements. Sorry. 😉 ), I was able to appreciate the beauty of the dances there. I admit that they aren’t my cup of tea and you will not see me dance the Jitterbug or even a swing that often but the movie somehow opened my mind to a new perspective in dance. One positive factor was that I got into the music (old songs are my favorite) so that added to the charisma of the film. 🙂

Swing Kids does not only show how people were able to come up with a way to rebel against the Nazis but it also showed how dance can be a strong and an effective way of communicating with people.


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