This is a Norwegian film from director Marius Holst and is based on actual events which took place in 1915 on Bastoy Island. It was then a correctional facility for adolescent males. It is in Oslo fjord and was run as a home from 1900 to 1953 and is still today a minimum security prison. The film deals with events that occurred in 1915. Erling is a seventeen year old who is sent to the prison. He is given a new name C19, all personal effects are removed, hair shaven etc.
The boys are supposed to be turned into good Christians by the regime in order to be released. This is indeterminate sentencing, as it is the Governor who decides when a boy is redeemed and can go back into society. The regime is one of hard physical labour, meagre and poor rations and both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the house masters. C19 is one of those who decides that it is not the sort of place he wants to remain and so sets about planning to escape from the freezing hell hole.
What ensues is a tale that mirrors quite a few films that have gone before such as `Scum' and `Evil'. The Governor played brilliantly by Stellan Skarsgard tells the boys `escape is a childish fantasy', and for me that is pivotal to the whole film. This was shot in 54 days and the boys are not `professional' actors but this really works. No one is a passenger and the tension is palpable throughout.
It is one of those films that seem shorter than it is and when you consider this is based on actual events it makes it all the more engaging, in Norwegian with good sub titles, this is a real and visceral film that deserves more attention than it received.