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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, odd, but quite brilliant and unique
The swimmer is a film which provokes mixed reactions from some viewers possibly down to not quite understanding what the film "means" or what it conveys.
When I first saw the film I was a teenager and did not really grasp the full impact of the story being told. I don't usually go into more depth on a film plot/story, not wanting to spoil it for those who...
Published on 27 Jan. 2013 by Mr Baz

versus
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully photographed but too depressing
My husband and I are great Burt Lancaster fans but found this movie disappointing. It is permeated by an air of unreality. To begin with, everything seems perfect. Lancaster's character is naive and unconvincing and keeps on repeating what a glorious, warm, cloudless day it is. He decides to swim home via the neighbours' swimming pools, and sets off under a cloudless...
Published 18 months ago by V.J.B. VAN DER PLUYM


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, odd, but quite brilliant and unique, 27 Jan. 2013
By 
Mr Baz - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
The swimmer is a film which provokes mixed reactions from some viewers possibly down to not quite understanding what the film "means" or what it conveys.
When I first saw the film I was a teenager and did not really grasp the full impact of the story being told. I don't usually go into more depth on a film plot/story, not wanting to spoil it for those who have not yet seen it.

But to get the full enjoyment of this film some explanation is required.

The theatrical poster is probably the best place to start it states: When you talk about "The Swimmer" will you talk about yourself?

Adapted from a short story written by John Cheever, the swimmer successfully translates into a thought provoking film. A good case study for story writers and English students the Swimmer is quite a lot more than it first appears. It is far more than a man simply visiting people and swimming in their pools.

Lancaster described the film as one of his favourite roles, even putting his own money into production to fund additional shooting. Frank Perry (and Sydney Pollack) direct a deep and traumatising film that is a long way off of conventional (and all the better for it)

Burt Lancaster (at the time in his mid 50's) looks in fantastic shape every bit the powerful fit swimmer you would expect. He plays the seemingly well liked Ned Merrill who on a bright sunny day decides to "swim home" through his neighbours pools. We quickly see that this is merely a symbolic representation, the day is really a journey through a man's life, with each pool we learn something new about Ned, as the day progresses the reception he receives is more hostile. The film starts in bright sunshine on a perfect day, and transitions to a dark and wet downpour. Again symbolic of a journey through life both physically but more importantly emotionally.

The pools Ned visits tell us more about the man. It's is apparent Ned was successful, well liked, had a loving family and children/wife, and financially well off, later we meet more people and it becomes obvious Ned has fallen on harder times and both emotionally and financially. Janice Rule puts in an excellent performance as Ned's former lover whom he has had an affair with (we assume some time has passed since then), with a scourn and bitterness in her tone she cruely dismantles Ned with her words. Ned starts off strong and fit, but ends up weak and cold, struggling to swim the last few pools.

There are many pools Ned visits each one tells more of the story of Ned so I won't spoil that for readers. I would pay attention to each one, and this is a film which deserves many repeat viewings to fully unravel the story of this man. In his journey through life (or the day/pools) Ned encounders moments of joy, sucess, inspiration, with sadness, despair, guilt and ultimately rejection; and in one scene openly mocked and belittled. This is a story that will strike a cord with many viewers as we can all draw something from this good and bad. (from our own journey through life)

The ending it has to be said is in my view one of the finest to ever grace a motion picture, which I don't wish to spoil for viewers, but it's a hugely powerful/devestating conclusion to what is in my view a very significant and quite outstanding film. The swimmer is often misunderstood, but deeply moving/tragic. If you want to watch a film that really does make you think/ponder, and in a meaningful way relate to your own life, you've just found it. The abstract nature of telling the story is both highly original and unique/quirky (treat each pool as an episode in Ned's life in some cases many years would have passed from pool to pool): there are few films that can ever hope to reach the heights this one does. A superb performance from Lancaster rounds off the treat, as does the solid performances from all the actors and a good soundtrack.

There are parts of the film that do leave things a little open to debate. Why is Ned so oblivious to what has happened in his life? There are scenes where reality conflict with Ned's perception (for example he say's the wife and kids are fine in one scene) greeted with frowns from his neighbours (clearly he is detached from reality his Wife and Children are long gone). Has Ned been away for some time and only just returned trying to live out his life as he thought it should be? Or is this another complex layer in the story telling? I can't answer all of these questions but the pieces of the puzzle are there in the film. Simple in some ways (the overall story and message), complex in other ways it's a fascinating journey to make and analyse.

I've watched this film dozens of times and only enjoy it more on each viewing.
And that ending...it just floors you every time I see it, a knock out blow...amazing.

Outstanding, daring, unique in it's presentation...a timeless masterpiece of storytelling. Cannot be praised highly enough.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, 7 Jan. 2006
By 
Captain Pike (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
On a sunny autumn afternoon in a wealthy New England suburb, Burt Lancaster appears at a friend's garden wearing nothing but a pair of swimming trunks. Jumping into their pool, he announces that he has decided to swim home in a journey that will include his friends' and neighbours' swimming pools.
Burt Lancaster was in his mid-fifties when this film was made, but has the body of a man half his age and at first the character he plays seems the model of success. However, as the film progresses it becomes clear that all is not what it seems and the film's climax is both shocking and heartbreaking.
This is one of the finest and most underrated American films of the 1960's. Burt Lancaster gives a mesmerising performance and it is nice to see Kim Hunter as well. From the beautiful opening, with its haunting score by Marvin Hamlisch, to the powerful climax, this is a wonderful film that deserves greater recognition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Moment of Truth, 9 May 2010
By 
Satish Nimkar (Barcelona,Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
An original story but a very sad one. The swimmer,Ned Merill wants to swim to his home by way of swimming through the swimming pools of his neighbours and friends. So he starts swimming from the pool of one friend,walks further to the next house,swims throught the pool and runs further to the next pool and so on and so forth.

The originality of the story lies in the unfolding of the personal story of Ned merill with each new pool he swims through. With each pool we come to know something more about him and his life until the moment of truth comes. This happens when he reaches his own house.

The story is set in a verdant suburban America.

This must be the best role of Burt Lancaster's film career.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic movie, 6 Feb. 2003
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This review is from: The Swimmer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I agree with the other reviewers but would go further and say that this is one of the best films of all time. The visual imagery was enough to inspire a recent Levis jeans ad, and the colour and photography are simply breathtaking. Burt Lancaster's acting is tense and taught, and hints at hidden depths and dark secrets that slowly unravel as you watch the film. Very much about the shallowness of suburban life and disappointments of the American Dream, the film argues that it really does matter how you treat people along the way and that the means of getting somewhere are rather more important than the end itself. A thought-provoking and classical piece of film-making that would never be funded it it were proposed today. It is sad yet humane and full of feeling.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We Had Nice New Pink Lungs In Those Days", 2 Jan. 2010
By 
Mr. M. M. Waller "Maximus" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
I was 9 or 10 when I first saw this movie. Not the best age to watch a film about a middle age man's breakdown perhaps, but Boy am I glad I did. Alongside Ray's "In A Lonely Place", I had been immediately cursed with a passion for film that my young brain could not fathom. It was purely intuitive. The curse eventually led me to become a screenwriter. But back then, in the 1980's when Eddie Murphy and Police Academy films were most popular, my 9 year old eyes could not believe what I was watching. I simply could not take my eyes off the screen. The Swimmer is sinister in a subtle kind of way. It starts in the woods with the sound of branches being broken by naked feet. An owl hoots and a deer flits away. Someone's running fast, but from what or whom? Then before we know it we're by the pool with a host of characters drinking hangover cocktails discussing how beautiful the weather is. The Swimmer is one of the most haunting American movies ever made. Some might say "Sweet Smell Of Success" is Burt's finest hour, but for my money, Neddy Merrill is his greatest performance. He lends sadness, madness, despair, joy and optimism with melancholic pessimism. I don't think DeNiro or even Pacino have the range that Lancaster displays here. It's outstanding. The whole film has the sense of a man's life slipping away. It's poetic in the way that Burt seems to be unaware that he's no longer in the prime of his life. He defiantly swims on against the tide of time, desperately trying to cling onto the happier times. There's one scene where Burt's pool to pool odyssey threatens to be undone. An empty swimming pool with no water to swim through brings him to an almost full stop. But somehow, Burt does every stroke without. He does it because he wants to ignite the imagination of a sad young child. When he walks away, he worries that the child might be too imaginative and jump off the diving board. It reminds me of a Salinger short story I once read called Teddy. And perhaps as I get older I find more reason to love this film. It's a cinematic equivilent of all those great American novels I've enjoyed by Salinger, Fitzegerald and Faulkner and of course Cheever whose story the film is based on. This is a film to return to time and time again. You'll never be so casual about your front crawl again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Lancaster could be the swimmer, 16 July 2008
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Almost any film Burt Lancaster is in usually gets my attention & The Swimmer is no exception, in fact I think it was one of his more complicated roles, one which was tailor made for Burt. Hard to believe Burt was 55, My God he had the body of an athletic 33 old, great shape almost as good as his acting ability. From what I read he actually could not swim prior to doing this film & never liked getting into the water!
I have watched tis film many times now & each time I see another glimpse of the brilliance that was & is Burt Lancaster. A tormented & lost soul is seen in this most unique of films , where Ned Merrill suffers the illusion of "normality & a secure Family Life" only those around him know better, what attracts me to Lancaster as an actor is his complete ability to portray almost all characteristics of human life, be it the He Man though guy to the idiot fool ie, The rose tattoo, Sad & embittered The Bird Man of Alcatraz, Ruthless & cruel in The sweet smell of success, or Delusional & self Denial in THE SWIMMER. Burt really was a genius on screen & his likes will never be seen again. On a funnier side the wardrobe deportment did not have a problem with Burt's cloths, has to be the only film where the Principal Actor wore so little.
In the Swimmer he draws you into his own small world where for him despite the obvious he is a happily married man with a wife & daughter awaits him, we also see a very shallow side where he is willing to pledge his "love" to any Female who will believe his ramblings " the sad thing is Ned Merrill also believes them also"
Yes The Swimmer is an all round winner for me the only surprise is that when released it was more or less a flop, perhaps not enough RAMBO action in it, Anyhow lets be greatful to DVD's this period in Film making .No doubts I will watch this film many more times
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make them like this any more, 8 April 2005
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
One of the best and possibly saddest films I have ever seen. Burt is fantastic as the slightly deranged main character who is barely trying to hold onto reality. The one thing I would love to know is where he had been before he appeared at the start. You'll know what I mean when you watch the film, and you should watch the film!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A custom-made role for Burt Lancaster who displays his fine physique as well as giving a movingly understated performance ..., 12 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
A custom-made role for Burt Lancaster who displays his fine physique as well as giving a movingly understated performance in this cult film. Marvin Hamlisch contributes an appropriate score with haunting melodies juxtaposed against jaunty party music.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uncomfortably brilliant, 12 Mar. 2000
This review is from: The Swimmer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I think this may be Burt Lancaster's finest film. It's charts the unravelling of a late 60's wasp as he swims home - by visiting his neighbours and their pools. The accumulative disintegration of the facade in which he exists is painful viewing and Lancaster plays it with such authenticity that you can't help empathise with him, whilst feeling utter contempt for him. They only made 'em like this in the 70's....
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Each Pool is a Room in his Past - and his Mind....., 8 Feb. 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] (DVD)
Wouldn't it be so sublime to swim, glide into a period of time and glide back out again. Glistening in the sunlight. Like a bird of the water; able to escape and flee when it suits. He might even be swimming through his whole life in flashback, as in death...

Though Ned Merril's (a superbly athletic Burt Lancaster) dropped in experiences always seem to turn sour, presumably mirroring actual events in his (past?) life, he seems to be visiting them for the first time. Many folk he drops in on are pleased to see him and he messes things up, through inappropriate actions - the baby-sitter for his daughter, who had a crush on him many years ago - or his ex-mistress, from whom he can't let go. And those who have his character tarnished through the debts he undoubtedly left and in his dreams offers to unrealistically, repay several-fold.

Only in the 60's could this film have really been made, successfully - and the U.S at that. The wistful, playful filter effects shooting into the dappled sunlight that echoes the end of the hippie generation, counteracted by the vile culture of capitalism as the latest gadget is flaunted and paraded, attained only it seems to keep up with the Joneses.

Whilst Ned carries no baggage, literally, apart from his swimming trunks, the owners of all the pools he visits have emotional and material baggage to bog them down and tie them to. Even the public pool is so bound by petty rules that it constricts, yet it is overflowing with people. I don't feel sad for Ned - I'm refreshed by his liberty, not caring particularly what and who he meets next. Lancaster doesn't always show emotion in his varying roles, sometimes being a little too stony-faced to truly convince, but he does well as The Swimmer.

The outcome is indeed sad, excruciatingly so, but unsurprising. He squats, Atlas style on his own doorstep, in the downpour, totally unable to rejoin his life. In that pose, he weeps(?), a changed lock barring him from re-entering; the rat-race, the world of property and material misery denied him (again). Instead of holding up the Earth, he carries the weight of the World on his shoulders. We don't know what will happen to him - we know enough to care and that poor judgements have forced this unfortunate scenario rather than him being merely 'bad'.

There's enough in this film to keep one entertained, abstract enough to keep you guessing and different enough to be - well different. And for those alone, it certainly deserves a look.
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The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003]
The Swimmer [DVD] [1968] [2003] by Sydney Pollack (DVD - 2003)
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