This splendid TV version of The Swiss Family Robinson embraces the classic novel's darker aspects, which are often ignored in blandly child-friendly adaptations. Persecuted for his religious beliefs, David Robinson (Liam Cunningham) denies that he's a pro-French sympathizer, but the English government still sentences him to a nine-year stretch at a New South Wales penal colony. With his family in tow, the self-righteous David begins his sea voyage to Port Jackson; en route, a storm wrecks the ship and drowns most of the passengers. David, his wife, Lara (Brana Bajic), and their children Sarah, Fritz and Ernst, survive the calamity and float to shore. Though separated from his family, young Jacob Robinson (Charlie Lucas) is rescued by the ship's surviving crew. Roguish sailor Thomas Blunt (Roger Allam) raises Jacob as an apprentice thief while the rest of the Robinson clan adjusts to a new life on their secluded island. Eventually, teenagers Fritz (Jesse Spencer) and Ernst (Neil Newbon) demonstrate a better grasp of their surroundings than their taskmaster father. David mistrusts native Namatiti (Rided Lardpanna), but Namatiti teaches David's sons how to spear fish. Meanwhile, the now-adolescent Jacob (Andrew Lee Potts) is losing respect for father-figure Blunt, who's kidnapped Emily Montrose (Glenna Harrison), a naval captain's daughter. Emily escapes Blunt's ship and swims ashore, finding refuge with the Robinson Family and enchanting both Fritz and Ernst. Greedy for gold, Blunt lands nearby and kidnaps Namatiti before invading the Robinson's compound, Jacob in tow. Jacob's loyalty to Blunt makes David and Lara's reunion with their son a bittersweet one, but they pin their hopes on their ability to bring Jacob back into the family fold. This rousing adventure saga is also a moving and provocative family drama; Mother Nature's assault on the Robinsons are no harsher than the domestic crises they must weather. It's hard to imagine a better adaptation of Johann David Wyss's classic novel.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: This splendid TV version of The Swiss Family Robinson embraces the classic novel's darker aspects, which are often ignored in blandly child-friendly adaptations. Persecuted for his religious beliefs, David Robinson (Liam Cunningham) denies that he's a pro… (more)