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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, odd, 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 4 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 16 months ago by V.J.B. VAN DER PLUYM


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5.0 out of 5 stars A tale to make you cry, 5 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
What is there not to like in this film?
In a word - Nothing.
A fine performance by Burt Lancaster, an original storyline, and a host of characters to make you laugh and smile, with the tragedy being offered by Lancaster's sad and failed character.
Culled from the book by Cheever - The Swimmer is one of the finest movies ever made.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Masterpiece, 7 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
'The Swimmer' is a film I can see myself coming back to over and over again, which is not something I do too often with films like this one which, on it's base level, is a simple allegory about a man cracking under the immense social pressure that many suburbanites must feel on a daily basis. However, the film works on too many levels to merely see it as a clever metaphor and the wonderfully operatic ending that unnerves, excites and dismays at the same time is a real humdinger and gives repeat viewings an entirely new atmosphere, something I admire greatly in the world of cinema.

Burt Lancaster excels as the aforementioned Ned, the man who, improbably, decides to swim home from his friends suburban home via his neighbours swimming pools. As bizzare as it sounds, we actually get quite used to the idea after the first couple of swimming pools and urge Ned on to complete his journey, not just because we are meant to but because the adventure eventually becomes an odyssey, something we need to see completed, something we need to have some closure on. Except by the end, maybe we wish we hadn't followed Ned at all through his statement of self-deception.

Aside from the wonderfully realised plot, the director Frank Perry and his crew do a wonderful job keeping our eyes engaged with off-base camera angles and editing as well as some luscious, almost nostalgic lighting, which adds a sense of melancholy to the film that seems almost out of place until the bigger picture is revealed.

This understated but really rather fantastic piece of New Hollywood cinema has many treasures to unearth and is very much worth a punt at £4. A good investment that hopefully will keep you thinking for days on end. Anyone fancy a swim?
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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] [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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Thought Provoking Classic, 14 Mar. 2010
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Frank (Northampton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I wasn't expecting a lot when a sat down to watch this film as I had heard little of it before, but wow, I came away feeling it is one of THE best films I have seen. I watch a lot of films, but rarely do my thoughts linger on the story long after like they did after watching this one. The acting is superb, Lancaster makes the character he protrays come powerfully to life - you may not know exactly why his character is behaving as he is, but you can feel the emotion, confusion, troubled psyche come bubbling through. Outstanding and highly recommended!

This film is one of my top 5 all-time favorites!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man with his head under water, 26 July 2002
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g m brennan (london United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Swimmer [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I absolutely love this film, although it clearly leaves you feeling that you need to be aware of the thin line between success and failure.The main character cuts quite a pathetic figure and you can see that he has upset a lot of people on his original business journey. However, there seems to be a great deal of pity for him and human understanding. As it dawns on you that he has had a breakdown of some kind, you observe the poetry of his ramblings and it draws you to him. I think the cinematography is classic and very much of it's time. I found the ending heart-rending and it's theme of loss and regret leaves you feeling quite depressed.I'm off to the pub!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!, 18 July 2010
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This movie is a real classic and an absolute masterpiece! Do the favour to yourself to buy it! Great performances from great actors and a really deep and interesting story!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 16 April 2009
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This film deserves all the acolades that can be heaped upon it. Like all truly great pieces of art, it makes you think long after the end titles have rolled. I watched this when I was young by accident and waited many years to see it again but like another reviewer I want to know what happened just before the opening scene and what happens just after the last shot, but arn't they always the best kind of films?
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A POETIC MASTERPIECE, 27 July 2007
This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Okay, I'll have to try hard to keep this one short, because this is easily one of my five favourite films. If there was a movie that producers should go to for inspiration on how to bring some freshness to this ever cramped and automated film industry, then this has to be one of the very few worth looking at! I had a horrible feeling I wouldn't find this on dvd when I started looking for it a couple of years ago. I was absolutely delighted to find I was wrong, and not only this, but that it was a good dvd production, keeping that evocative widesceen vision. (I don't know why they sometimes chop that off.) Yes I am sure there will be at some point, an incredulous pedant who writes a one star review, joyously telling us the film has no plot, no purpose and no point to it, and labelling it self indulgent and pretentious. To this I would say, No.1, you have no taste in films, and No.2, this was really the point to it. It is merely the filming of a journey a man has to take, we don't have to know the reasons, we can make our own assumptions from the many clues given out by characters who know him. It is a wonderous journey, sumptuously photographed, amazingly well played by Lancaster, who looks like he would have bitten your arm off for this role, and incredibly memorable.

I do have a slight niggle with the original production, but only a slight one, as the movie did pull itself together in the end: The change of director more than half way through! This is always to be avoided where possible, and in this instance it was very avoidable. (The original director didn't die, or become ill, or even have one of those contract disputes!) The studio simply decided that the film wasn't looking commercial enough as it stood, and wouldn't make enough sense to audiences perhaps not so used to the concept of a poetic film without the normal plot structure and action of most mainstream pictures. So, the decision was made to dump Parry and bring in Pollack (who doesn't even get a credit on the film). The resulting change is actually quite noticable (at first), but I do wonder if it was really necessary. Already two thirds completed, the film had its (beautifully poetic) tone very well set, and then comes the first Pollack scene: Very noticably longer than the previous scenes which had rolled seamlessly into each other, and completely different in style, this sudden change to more tangible drama in this one quite stormy scene did actually threaten the whole ambience of the film, and came closer than the others to acknowledging Merrill's state of mind, and its cause. I did get a bit worried they might blow the whole thing by revealing too much, but Pollack seems to have a hold on the reigns, despite the slightly jarring effect of this scene. Also, the drama seemed a little false, but Lancaster stayed in character beautifully, with all the emotional dirt dishing being done by his ex-mistress (a phenominal performance by the man). However, once he finally managed to leave Janice Rule's pool, the film sort of snapped back into shape with another visually poetic scene where he has to cross the busy highway. It is as if Pollack suddenly remembered the symbolic feel of the first half of the movie and made an effort to get back to that, quite rightly.

And when we get to the mesmerising ending, we are firmly back in that beautifully ethereal, not quite real world. Indeed that ending is a bona fide cinematic masterpiece of an ending, without any question! It so melancholic, you could weep, it is so painfully sad, you have no choice but to feel pity for Merrill, and visually, when the camera takes us inside that desperate house, we are reminded of another great cinematic scene, from Great Expectations. A terribly sad ending without a doubt, but what a glorious journey along the way that had glimmers of heartfelt joy and sheer idealism sparring with those little depressions of sadness and stark reality. It is a great tale of one man's sudden reversion to an earlier, pure and childlike state of mind where everything is beautiful and as it should be, seemingly unaware of the catastrophic pressure of a failed personal life that caused this breakdown. What I really love about this movie is the way it portays this strange but moving journey of Merrill's. It is so indirect, and suggestive instead of coming out with the plain truth of what has happened. It rightly never goes near this factual revelation, and leaves the viewers to make up their own minds. And Everyone who has seen this film I am certain would agree that this would have been a catastrophic mistake, as it would have robbed us of one the most hauntingly poetic movies ever made. Who cares if its obliqueness irritates some people, leave them to watch Die Hard movies and others of that ilk if this is what cinema should be, for them. But there is a real market for films of this hue too, and I wish more film makers would wake up to that. Here's to sugar on our strawberries!

PS. IF AMPAS KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING MORE, THEN THIS FILM SHOULD AT LEAST HAVE GOT NOMINATIONS IN LEAD ACTOR, CINEMATOGRAPHY, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY AND SCORE.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of the American Dream, 11 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
"The Swimmer" is a one of a kind movie, adapted from a John Cheever short story.

The Film opens with the sound of footsteps moving through the woods accompanied by a low eerie music. Occasionally animals and scenes of nature both in daylight and at night come into the cameras focus. The camera moves along looking at trees, a lake and the wildlife clearly representing what someone is seeing as they walk along. Eventually, a man clad only in a pair of black swimming trunks emerges from the woods, skips up to the edge of a suburban swimming pool and dives in. Having swum a couple of lengths he is greeted at one end by the owner of the house holding out a drink and welcoming him to come and join his guests. The Swimmer is Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster) and it soon becomes apparent that everyone at the house knows him and is happy to see him. He is charming and charismatic with the male guests and flirtatious with the females who obviously find him attractive. The other guests have not seen him for quite some time and when Ned is asked where he has been he evasively states "here and there." When further questioned if he has had a good summer he replies "sure, just great." The guests then begin to look puzzled when he gives answers to further questions that just don't seem to make any sense. They exchange confused looks and clearly know something that we don't. Ned, whilst looking out over the Connecticut valley begins to get an idea that he could swim in stages back to his house by using briefly the pools of several of his neighbours. he boldly announces that today he plans to "swim across the county !"

As Ned visits each house and swims in each pool something more is revealed about his life and how he has behaved towards others in the past. Some people are pleased to see him, others are contemptuous of him and a few downright hate the sight of him.

What becomes clear (SPOILER AHEAD) is that Ned has been away for a long time and re emerges into the life he once knew believing that it is about two years earlier than the present. He appears to have been a high flying Manhattan advertising executive who had the house, the car, the wife and the money but lost it all by living a life of pure selfishness. We are told that he married into the upper middle class and seems to have been given most of the success he enjoyed. At the various different pools he is revealed as a cheating husband, a bad father, a crook and a "fair weather friend". The result of his behaviour was that his wife either kicked him out or he was fired from his job or both.

It is possible that Ned's fall from grace brought about a nervous breakdown which has led to his memory loss and distorted view of reality. He may have even been hospitalised for the period that he is absent from the neighbourhood, but the absence is never explained. It is also unclear what became of his wife and daughters. They might simply have left him, but there are hints that they may actually be dead.

The final scene where Ned eventually arrives "home" and his disillusionment is brought crashing back to reality is a great piece of symbolic storytelling.

Most of "The Swimmer" was shot in 1966 and finally released in 1968. Maybe back then audiences weren't ready to question the themes that are raised. Central to the story is the falseness of the American dream and how if you're not "somebody" you're not only a nobody, but you're also not even welcome. The film "American Beauty" made in 1998 takes the same swipe at society and is a great film in its own right, but "The Swimmer" made thirty years earlier, is so much more effective at exposing the corrupt underbelly of the professional suburban existence.

Burt Lancaster played many memorable roles and was certainly in much more enjoyable movies, but I think he does his finest acting in "The Swimmer." He is perfect as the arrogant yet vulnerable and bemused Ned who cant work out whats going on. The movie does appear dated today and the musical score is very sixties, but any serious film fan should definitely see this at least once. It really is unforgettable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: The Swimmer [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a great, unique film. Burt Lancaster plays Ned Merrill, who turns up one morning at the house of a couple of friends, clad only in swimming trunks, and announces that he is going to swim to his house using a series of swimming pools. It is never really clear what the circumstances of Ned's life are but as the film goes on it becomes obvious that he is a deluded man. At one point Ned says that if someone believes something is true, then it is true for them. He sees himself as " a very special human being, noble and splendid." Other people, however, view him very differently and his odyssey becomes a journey of disillusionment. 'The Swimmer' has a surreal atmosphere. Is the film someone's dream? Burt Lancaster is terrific in this film. It is one of his best performances, possibly THE best. He brilliantly conveys Ned's increasing bewilderment. I think that Burt Lancaster was a definitive film star. He was handsome and charismatic, with an impressive, beautifully proportioned physique. Most of all he was one of the greatest movers in film history. Films are moving pictures and Lancaster's graceful agility was poetry in motion. Shelley Winters said of Lancaster that, " just watching him walk was almost a physical pleasure." In 'The Swimmer' he is older and heavier than in the films of his acrobatic prime such as 'The Flame And The Arrow,' but he still looks magnificent; athletic and powerful. He was a great film star and a great actor. 'The Swimmer' is like its star: wonderfully unique.
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The Swimmer [DVD] [2003]
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