THE SWIMMER Blu-ray Review
To say that films like 1968’s The Swimmer don’t get made anymore is more than an understatement it’s a bold fact. A surreal allegory based on an original short story from The New Yorker by John Cheever transcends the failure of the American Dream and channels the spirit of Rod Serling, this is a film that deserves to be visited for years to come.
Burt Lancaster gave the performance of his life at the age of 52 as Ned Merrill, a middle-aged advertising executive that appears to be successful as he embarks on an existential odyssey on a beautiful day, swimming to meet his ultimate destination. Ned’s journey through crisp blue paradise descends as his encounters turn from warm and enthusiastic to cold and hostile. As the atmosphere around him holds a reflection to his pain, Ned becomes wiser to the truth and accepting of his place in the world. This strange and brilliant film had plenty of odds against it, such as Frank Perry abandoning his directing duties over creative differences and Sydney Pollack stepping in to finish what Perry started. What we ended up with was a timeless and great weird movie that’s been collectively gaining it’s rightful cult status, even Siouxsie and the Banshees‘ debut album “The Scream” was inspired by it.
Unfortunately, legendary producer Sam Spiegel (The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia) removed his name from this film and if he had known how people would grow to appreciate this movie, perhaps that wouldn’t have been the case. When Ned meets the end of his trip and discovers what he’s been subconsciously looking for, much like this character you will be left feeling shook down and hopefully contemplate your own role in society, or more importantly the universe. This odd gem feels to me like a meditation of Charon’s crossing in the Divine Comedy through the backdrop of suburban swimming pools and perhaps it’s power comes from how it allows you to reflect and discover your own conclusions. Just be warned that once this film gets inside your head, it’s not going anywhere.
Grindhouse Releasing (Cannibal Holocaust, The Big Gundown) has given this release the royal treatment and it looks beautiful with it’s digital restoration from a 4k scan. There’s a five-part, two and a half hour documentary by Oscar winner Chris Innis (The Hurt Locker) with tons of in-depth interviews. The cover sleeve comes with awesome new cover art from illustrator Glen Orbik (Stephen King’s JOYLAND) and includes liner notes by director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator). You definitely get your money’s worth!
Buy The Swimmer on Blu-ray on Amazon.