Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Film Review: Swiss Family Robinson

Hey-ho, I KNEW you could see this coming!

I promised Glissando a review of a film which I imagine is as idyllic as his life on a beach down under.
And, being a Swiss resident, it was only a matter of time before I turned my attention to this film...

But, you ask...since when was 'Robinson' a Swiss name?

And you would be right - it's not.

I read the book when I was a child, long before my links with Switzerland.
I always thought it was a factual story.

But now I learn I was wrong all those years ago.

This book was indeed written by a Swiss man, Johann David Wyss. A Swiss pastor, no less.
But it was by no means autobiographical.
The 'Robinson' is a tribute to the adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

Pastor Wyss wrote the book to teach his four sons about what it means to be a man.

Yes, this book was meant to be a blueprint for the journey from boy to man.
In other words, a precursor to The Manosphere :-)

These days, I see 'SMP' in everything.

But this book, really is SMP. It is definitely not my imagination!

The book has spawned a myriad of films, TV-series and spin-offs. The one I am familiar with, (and the version I review) is the 1960 film starring John Mills and Dorothy McGuire.

I cannot find a complete version of this film on Youtube, but Disney have it free here.

In this version of the book, there are only three sons.

The film begins with a shipwreck. The family are on their way to New Guinea when a storm hits. They survive the storm only to find that they have been abandoned by the captain and the crew. They are on their own at sea.

Luckily for them though, they are not too far from land. They make it to dry land, and little by little, they manage to salvage what they can from the ship, making quite a nice life for themselves on the island.

The first striking SMP lesson for me is...this:

Whilst Father and the two eldest sons Fritz and Ernst are doing their best to protect themselves and Francis (the youngest boy) and Mother, these latter two are insistent that the dogs on board be rescued as well, even though to admit the dogs on board would mean endangering the lives of everyone else on board.


Yes, women and children can get in the way. I get that.

In this particular case, the dogs saved themselves anyway, and swam to safety, so they passed the survival test anyway. Good on them.

But the tendency of the (sometimes) unwarranted caring that women insist on displaying even though should their actions cause a threat to their own safety, it would be men who would be called upon to come to their aid (the same man who opposed said unwarranted 'caring' in the first place!) does not go unnoticed.

Yes, it can be annoying. And it gets in the way of men whose natural instinct is to protect women and children.

The Robinsons do a fine job of creating a paradise for themselves on the island. They build a tree-house with all the mod cons (with items salvaged from the ship) that would be the envy of many a housewife in Bern :-)

But Mother was at first unimpressed, when the building work was still in progress. But she was more than satisfied with the end-result, to the delight of her boys, Father included :-)

If you are starting to get the impression that Mother was a fastidious person, then mea culpa, I have given you the wrong impression.
Mother was actually a very good woman. She is 'fastidious' when it comes to the needs of her precious boys. This is, I suppose, just her natural 'mother's instinct' kicking in, but she is also a very good wife. An exemplary one. She looks after her boys very well, and they look after her.

Everyone is happy.


Whilst Father is waxing lyrical about how island life is the ideal life, and 'how life was intended to be lived', Mother keeps reminding him that something's missing.

It was alright for him (Father) and her: they had already lived their life. But what about their sons? How tragic that they might live their whole life without experiencing love with a woman, or having a family, or having a social life outside of the family!
To their knowledge to date, they were the only inhabitants of the island.

Now, the MGTOWs would say Amen! to that of course.
But remember, I don't think teenage boys who had yet to experience the company of girls would be too hot on this idea :-) Just a guess :-)

Father agreed that yes, it would be nice if they could find girls for their boys :-)
He sort of agreed to this idea rather grudgingly, I felt :-)

What is it with older men that they forget how nice the flush of romantic love can be once they have been married for decades?
Women never forget :-)

This scene reminds me of the scene in 'Guess who is coming to dinner?' where the mother of John is desperately trying to remind her husband and the father of Joanna that their time might be past, but the two young lovebirds deserved a chance at building their own life together. She finishes by asking them, 'don't you remember what it was like at their age?' Neither man had an answer for her...

To increase their chances of finding girls, the parents finally allow Fritz and Ernst to sail around the island and take their chances with Nature...and pirates. Mother is scared stiff to let her precious boys go, and yet she is the one who wants them romantically sorted :-)
Ah, the cognitive dissonance of womanhood :-)

At this point in the film one gets the impression that it is indeed time to let Fritz and Ernst go on this trip. It turns out to be some sort of funny 'initiation' for them.
'Initiation' is a term that I gather is a bit of a 'red rag to a bull'. At least this is what I learned that in the MGTOW thread.
This is why I use inverted commas.

But indeed I am guessing that this is the whole point of the book, and therefore of the film. David Wyss really wants his audience (young boys) to get this message: to survive with your bare hands and intellect in Savage Nature. To learn to be a man under the most uncivilised circmstances...

Sure, this skill is largely lost, except in some families where the father has kept the tradition going, and despite 'civilisation', makes sure all the sons know how to hunt, fish, etc. But it is difficult if you live in a big city and you are not that wild about Nature.
In which case, it is much, much easier to raise girls than boys, as you just need the interior of a home to teach a girl to be a useful wife and mother in the way olden day girls were.

On this trip, it is clear that both Fritz and Ernst are well beyond puberty. According to Wikipedia, Fritz is about fifteen, and therefore Ernst must be a year or two younger by inference.

They reminisce about life in Bern before the big trip. Fritz talks about his memories of 'girl-watching' on a street in Bern. They wonder if they will find girls their age when they sail around the island. Fritz jokes that by the time they get to their destination, they would be so (insert your own crude word here), that they wouldn't care what age the girls were.

Poor boys.

Fritz is muscular and brawny. He is also very ambitious. He wants to be his own boss someday soon. For the moment though, he is happy to be in the shadow of Father, but not for much longer.

Ernst, by contrast is an intellectual. He plans to go to University. He plans to conquer the island not by his pysical might, but with his brains. His mother encourages him to 'use his head' because she recognises that this is his strong point, his Uniqe Selling Point.
Father has already come to rely quite heavily on his bright ideas.

And it looks like Francis, the youngest boy is going the way of Ernst. He has wild, but interesting ideas. Bless him, he is about nine or ten, but he certainly knows how to hold his own. But he gets to stay at home with Mother and Father whilst Fritz and Ernst get to experience the big, wide world.
Not fair :P

A funny thing happens to Fritz and Ernst on their travels. They happen upon a British man who has been captured by the dreaded pirates, along with his 14 year old grandson.

They try to save both captives, but unfortunately only have time to free the boy before the pirates come back.
It's a dash for the exit with 'Bertie' in tow as the angry pirates come after them...

Finally having shaken off the pirates, Fritz and Ernst soon realise that all is not well with 'Bertie'. They start to question his masculinity.
This boy cannot run fast, he acts all sissyish, and is just not what a boy ought to be.
In other words...


Ernst wonders the untinkable: were we like this before we toughened up a bit on this island? Fritz reassures him that they were never quite as bad as this Bertie...

This speculation about Bertie's masculnity comes to an abrupt end as Fritz accidentally discovers that 'Bertie' is actually a girl.

Fritz and Ernst, meet Roberta.

And from that moment on, the war between the brothers begin. This turns out to be a game-changing moment :-)

Women, eh. Nothing but trouble :-)

Now here begin the most important SMP lessons.

Fritz, who is more 'alpha' than Ernst, by virtue of his older age, more masculine appearance and slightly aloof personality around Roberta (at least as compared to Ernst's approach to her) really displays how it should be done.

Whilst Ernst is busy doing his best to impress Roberta in the way that clueless young men sometimes go about these things (for example, falling for the bait when she lets drop that she misses the debutante dances in London with the men in the tall hats - and he proceeds to make himself a tall hat out of straw to impress her - no! no! no! Ernst!), Fritz acts all unimpressed when she tells him that her grandfather would offer him a job in his company (what, me, work for another man? No thanks!) and when she invites him to come see her in London once their stint on the island was finished, he politely declined, stating that he wanted to go on to new Guniea and build a life for himself.

All that Ernst was doing was leading to the 'friend zone'. Roberta seemed to like his intellectualism at the beginning, but the alpha boy attracted her more, in the end. Soon, she was finding ever more inventive ways to get closer to Fritz (could you teach me to shoot a gun, Fritz? Pretty please? - flutter of eyelashes, lol). When Ernst offers to teach her to shoot, she is actually repulsed by his offer. She proceeds to shoot an object a million miles away, demonstrating how she actually needed shooting lessons like a fish needs a bicycle :-)

The important difference between these two boys is that one was following his own path in life, and a woman was allowed to enter said path if she wished, and with his consent, of course. The other was ready to abandon his path and follow the woman.

No woman wants to be 'the leader'. No matter how much she protests to the contrary.
Ernst did not know this.
This proved to be the fatal flaw in his quest for Roberta.

In the end, he had to admit defeat. It was clear that Fritz was Roberta's choice.

Mother was delighted to have a 'daughter' at last.
Someone she could discuss 'girl stuff' with :-)
Someone she could dress up in her old dresses :-)
Someone who would (darn it!) marry her son :-)

Satisfied, Mother?

Um, no.
Not yet.
She had three sons, remember? As she reminded Father :-)

Nope, not completely happy until 2 more girls came their way :-)
Fritz was now sorted.
Ernst next, and then Francis...

The film finishes with Ernst going off to Civilisation with Roberta's Grandfather, whilst Mother and Father, and Fritz and Roberta decide to stay and build a new life on their island.

The film is indeed worth watching.
If for nothing, for the idyllic scenery it offers.

But the SMP lessons are also worth the effort, I would say.
Well worth the effort.



Anonymous said...

"no! no! no! Ernst!" -- lol.
The next time I'm about to make a beta move, I'm going hear "no! no! no! Ernst!" being screamed in my innermost self.

It will stop me.

"The Importance of Not Being Ernst" hahaha

Don't be beta -- that I can often follow. But the problem is, I can't fake Fritz.

-- Mac

Anonymous said...

I read Swiss Family Robinson when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I was attracted by a picture of a pirate (complete with three-corner hat) on the cover.

I had NO IDEA Bertie was gay!


Spacetraveller said...



I can't imagne you ever being beta, Mac. No way, Hosé!

The importance of not being Ernst, lol.
I love it! Well played!

Knowing now what I know, it pains me to see how Ernst blew it so badly with Roberta. It is my honest opinion that Roberta liked Ernst more, at the beginning. She and Ernst often ganged up against Fritz. For example, they planned a mutiny against Fritz's leadership soon after the discovery that she was a girl. By the way, Fritz handled that particular 'fitness test' extremely well. He kept his calm and continued on his way. And not surprisingly, Ernst and Roberta eventually decided that it would be better to remain with Fritz than brave it on their own. This was one of several 'fitness tests' that led to Roberta picking the more 'able' man, in the end.
She liked Ernst's intellectualism. Had Ernst been 'alpha' in his own way, he could have easily retained the interest of Roberta longterm. But he let his initial advantage slip to nothing.
It wasn't so much the 'brawn' of Fritz that won the day, I don't think. It was really his self-confidence. So so important to a woman, even one as young as Roberta. Not all women are addicted to muscles :-) But self-confidence? If a man ain't got that, most women WILL move on. And if she is desperate/not discerning enough/being 'altruistic', and stays with the unconfident man, she may later come to despise him. It is what it is, what can I say...

It really is NOT necessary to fake Fritz. Every man has his own style of self-confidence that comes from within, no?
There must be, because afterall, not every man is a Fritz, and thank God for that! The Ernsts of this world (although may have it harder because their self-confidence is not as overt as that of the Fritzes), also have a good chance, if only they will believe in their (superlative) abilities more!

I imagine that Fritz secretly wanted to be like Ernst. He often spoke jealously of Ernst's intellect. Imagine how much more desirable Ernst could have been to women after he finished his university studies!

But alas, perhaps I am being too harsh with Ernst. He was afterall, not yet a fully grown man. Plenty of time to 'come into his own', as it were. Fritz had already done this, which is why he got the girl...


No, Bertie was not gay, lol.

The reference to 'gay' in the post was a mini-satire of its use by young men to 'insult' young women who are actually being normal girls (i.e. feminine). I made a similar reference to this in the post 'A woman's word'.

But of course in this case, Fritz and Ernst were led to believe Bertie was a boy. They therefore found him odd, and I suspect they really thought he could be gay.

Fritz even says to Ernst: Remember when we were wishing for girls? I think we have finally found one! in reference to Bertie. Little did they know at that stage that she WAS in fact a girl!

Anonymous said...

Same idyllic place, different idyllic time, and it's an early morning in Spring :

An impressive white cruiser has dropped anchor in the bay. All regulation navigation lights are aglow. Two small figures appear at the stern.

Ann et vir.

They are pulling the dingy in by its painter. Soon they will row for the shore...

I guess this is what a man gets for being too generous with his hardware. It's all your fault ST, for asking her to teach you Chinese! I should have warned you, but there wasn't enough time: You have a tiger by the tail! ;-)

Where am I to ask her to dump her stuff? We certainly don't want you two to clutter up The SMP Classical repertoire with elementary Mandarin! ;-) Please tell me there's an old, disused post somewhere...

There's a tippy moment as they board the dingy. She wears an old-fashioned sun-bonnet straight out of Katherine Mansfield, and a shawl. And... O dear, is that a text book in her hand?

He, from top to bottom, sports the following:
A captain's hat with anchor emblem at front. Check.
An immaculately-pressed white short-sleeved shirt with anchor emblem on pocket. Check.
A seaman's belt with anchor emblem at buckle. Check.
Clipped to the belt, a Swiss Army Knife that he will insist on using for... well, everything. Check.
A perfectly-creased pair of white shorts, somewhat too large. Check.
A lovingly-ironed pair of white socks drawn up to a horizontal line an inch (exact) below the knee. Check.
A pair of sandals that look as if they belong an Englishman's height below a pith helmet. Check.
Each sandal sports an anchor emblem at buckle. Check.

By all that's jolly in boating weather, here they come! I am NOT going to watch his erect style of rowing! In his hands the oars are as effective as chopsticks. Back straight, head up, dip oars and pull...

No, no, I am NOT going to watch...
It's all your fault ST...

Glissando in tears (again)

Live Free or Die said...

Whilst Father is waxing lyrical about how island life is the ideal life, and 'how life was intended to be lived', Mother keeps reminding him that something's missing.

They were missing high-speed Internet porn.

Spacetraveller said...



Great story.


Oh dear.

metak said...

MGTOW warning, ST! Phlease! ;-)

Not a big fan of these horror movies myself. Brbbb...

Oh god, reading all this trough MGTOW goggles... the horror... ;-)

"Wilson? How are you doing today? Wilson...? Still sad about Roberta, eh?
Forget about her, she's already looking for a new wallet and 'gina tingles on the other side of the island... I saw her with those two chumps yesterday. Oh, c'mon, don't look at me like that Wilson! I told you all about Red pill, GAME and everything! What? It's not that...? You're sad because Mrs. Robinson gave you Syphilis!!!" be continued. ;-)

@ Live Free or Die

The one from MHQ? ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Great story"

No story, I swear! They really did arrive there and then exactly as described. She left a message for you in the Classical section! Their arrivals and departures are so horrendously funny, it will be the death of me some day.


Live Free or Die said...


@ Live Free or Die

The one from MHQ? ;-)

Yep. It is me.

Provider = Sucker

Anonymous said...

When (as a 9-year-old) I read how Bertie came out as Roberta, I was a bit miffed. Here they were, father, mother, three boys, pirates, all playing out their roles okay. Why bring in a girl?

When she started complicating things between two of the bros, I bailed out of the book. I was indignant. No girl was worth it! The stirrings of MGTOW, way back then.


Anonymous said...


"The Importance of Not Being Ernst"

And the Bertie act... Another Oscar gone west?


Anonymous said...

@Brother Metak,

I always did think Wilson was an inflated sort of a bugger. I could never abide well-rounded characters. I mean, if only he'd had an edge to him, or a protrusion, or an orifice, or a boundary, I might have found him a little less insufferable. What a beach-buddy not. Wilson was a philosophical zero.

No wonder he drove Tom around the twist.

To the great Marley in his puffy cloud in the sky, keep the Wilsons of this world away from me and my brother Metak. Amen.


Anonymous said...

By Mac

"no! no! no! Ernst!" -- Spacetraveller

It was my cocksure junior year;
She was a freshman chick,
And I the catch to whom she’d veer
Across the bailiwick.

The campus cloistered us from faults,
The college, Catholic.
She’d take my hand and soon our waltz
Became my bailiwick.

Kisses, kisses with the tongue;
She was delectable;
The ugly head in me when young
Was sure erectable.

So I confessed my sins to Monsignor Green;
His Irish brogue was thick;
He fathered me who’d never been,
Said, Study with her a lick.

I was naïve; I never guessed
That wasn’t such a kick;
And she by me no more caressed
Bailed on our bailiwick.

Alone I bravely kept on reading,
But oh my heart was sick.
And when she matched with a man for breeding,
It cut me to the quick.

How could she offer him her breast?
It cut me to the quick.
So I went back to see the priest,
Retrieve my bailiwick.

Oh Father, Father, I am cut!
He said, Think on the Passion!
And so I did. And you know what?
It worked – after a fashion.

All academic years must end,
And kicks against the prick.
Msgr. showed me how to tend
A narrow bailiwick.

When last I saw him at the door,
My face with tears was slick.
For I knew I’d see his face no more,
His smile my bailiwick.

metak said...

@ B.G.

Yeah, he had that "talk to the hand" attitude. ;-)
Serves him right, inflated bugger, Mrs Robinson 'seduced' him.. ;_)

Just listening B. Marley in insane lossless quality... ;-)

"Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Anonymous said...

There are all sorts of meanings going on here. Double - triple - quadruple meanings everywhere: Mac with his Ernst, me with my Oscar, you with your Mrs Robinson. Oh it takes a wicked mind to make that connection, brother.
Mother was not short of internet porn as Live Free or Die suggested, but graduates! (I wonder if she looked like Anne Bancroft) ;)

Anonymous said...

... and thanks for those lines from the Great Marley Man, BTW. I just played them, and it made my day :-)


Spacetraveller said...


Hahahahaha, great poem!

Glissando and Metak,

I have *just* twigged, that by 'Mrs. Robinson', you mean her of 'The Graduate' fame.
:-) I didn't make the connection before, lol.

You chaps really do have filthy minds :-)