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Swiss Family Robinson is a 1960 Disney Film of the Book of Johann Wyss' The Swiss Family Robinson. A much more compact and story-driven production than the original, it was a well-reviewed family-friendly hit. It follows the spirit of Wyss' basic Crusoe-but-a-whole-family premise while adding a human threat from the beginning to provide the climactic ultimate test of the family's resourcefulness.
At the opening of the story, the titular family (a couple and three boys) are trying desperately to save the cargo ship they are on during a huge storm. The captain of the ship had deliberately sailed into the storm to escape from a pirate ship, but it became severe enough that everyone abandoned ship and left the Robinsons with no lifeboats for themselves. Eventually, the ship runs aground near an island, and the storm ends. The pirates, who have followed the ship, approach, but Mr. Robinson flies the flag indicating that the Black Death is aboard and the pirates retreat. The family then build some rafts and ferry themselves and as many supplies as they can out to the island.
Everyone in the family proves to be extremely resourceful and together construct a comfortable and secure set of treehouses. Once they feel safe, Mr. Robinson builds a small sailing boat and the two older sons Fritz and Ernst sail around the shore of the island exploring. They come upon the pirates once again, and find that they have captured an old man and his son from another ship. Sneaking up to save them, Fritz and Ernst only manage to get away with the boy, Bertie, who ends up actually being Roberta. The three return to the Robinson base, and begin to prepare defenses against impending retribution from the pirates.
The film was a big hit upon release, and continues to be one of the highest grossing films of all time, adjusted for inflation.
Tropes used include
- Cool Pet: A pretty good haul of these. Francis finds and tames a baby elephant, then a monkey shows up, then Fritz and Ernst save a zebra, and finally the family adopt an ostrich.
- Deserted Island
- Food and Animal Attraction: This shows up using a banana and the family's pet monkey.
- Pit Trap: Francis builds one of these, which, to everyone else's surprise, successfully catches a tiger.
- Robinsonade: Heck, they even share the name somewhat. A bit less so than in the original book, but still a very strong castaway tale.
- The Siege: The family and Roberta together have to protect their home from an onslaught of angry pirates.
- Trap Master: Pretty much the entire family, as evidenced by the final siege of their home.
- Tree-Top Town: Eventually the Robinson home becomes a small one of these, and a very nice one too.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Roberta, initially known as Bertie, was disguised by her father to protect her from worse treatment from the pirates.