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  • Devil's Playground [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Devil's Playground [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details) Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
"The body will not be denied." 22 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: DVD
UH-oh . . . a movie about male libido. You can run, you can hide . . . or you can go on a poignant journey with Fred Schepisi as he takes you on this semi-autobiographical tour of a Catholic seminary in Australia, circa the Fifties. The first problem to overcome, obviously, is the DVD's cover art: no, it's not about priests who prey on boys. The straight-and-squeamish out there may presume that the movie is primarily about gay issues, but they would be wrong. Schepisi's priests are all straight-shooters, overturning a generally cherished stereotype (the few scenes involving homosexuality occur between the students). Instead, *The Devil's Playground* is about sexuality itself, or, more specifically, the war between Dogma and Glands: both priests and students are caught in this grimly funny and exasperating struggle. Schepisi is most adamant about being fair to both sets of individuals. On the one hand, you have the monk who spends his rare night away from the seminary at the local watering hole, getting desperately drunk, and flirting with factory girls right up to the point when a one-night-stand seems imminent. ("I barely escaped!" he pants to his fellow-priest as they run out of the bar.) On the other hand, we see the adolescent students in various stages of terminal puberty: they goggle at pinups; they play sadomasochistic games at secret night assignations; they flirt with the local girls . . . all the while dealing with new hair under their pits, wet dreams, embarrassing confessions to their teachers, fury at God, and secret wishes to give up the vocation. It's pretty heavy going, particularly the case of the strictest priest in the seminary, who, made helpless by compulsion, spends his day away from the school at the local public swimming pool. After ogling the bathing-suited ladies, he absconds to the lavatory, shaking with self-loathing. (The fantasy this episode causes, later that night, has to be one of the most masterfully shot "dream sequences" I've seen.) Of course, there's also a lot of keen, rueful humor that brings much-needed perspective to this stifling atmosphere. Sex, after all, is pretty funny. But as much as Schepisi respects the men of the cloth (and the boys who aspire to the cloth), he never lets you forget where he comes down on the Catholic Church's war against physical desire: "The body will not be denied." [Trivia note: watch for Thomas Keneally, author of *Schindler's List*, playing the role of a visiting friar.]
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Extraordinary movie in a great DVD release at last 7 April 2009
By J. Martin - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is much more than a prurient peek at repressed pubescent male sexuality, which is what you might expect from other reviews. If that's all you're looking for and you're determined to find it here, you may find enough to satisfy, but you'll be missing the point. This isn't soft-core kiddie porn disguised as social commentary. The Devils' Playground is a very serious, warm-hearted, generous and very beautiful work of art.

It's astonishingly beautiful, an economically and beautifully executed movie, full of well-developed, richly varied, entirely believable characters, a fascinating, deeply satisfying story that is never tedious or boring and yet never exploitative, melodramatic or cheap, and photography and music that are so extraordinarily perfect and beautiful that each frame could hang in a major museum. That this was any director's first full-length movie is nearly incredible--it would be a major accomplishment for any director even at the peak of his career.

Before I bought this DVD, I'd only seen it on an old VHS tape from the library, where it was cropped to fit a 4:3 TV screen and the sound was so poor I couldn't understand about half the dialog. I loved it anyway, but it was hard to watch. In fact, much of my reluctance to buy the DVD was fear that it might just be that old taped version transferred to disc. When I saw that there were two DVD versions available, but neither one with subtitles (which I was convinced it needed), I didn't know which one to order, so I just picked the newer one almost arbitrarily. Boy, am I glad I did. This one is a treasure.

The case notes don't make any claims about being newly remastered or anything like that, but they could. The video looks brand new, with rich, subtle, gorgeous color, perfect contrast, not a scratch or a spot anywhere, and in the original 16:9 aspect ratio. I can now see that this may be the most beautifully photographed movie I've ever seen. It's a low-budget movie, but it sure doesn't look like it. (I know I'm using the word "beautiful" an awful lot, but believe me, that's because it's the right word.)

The sound is as clear as a bell now, so I can understand every word even without subtitles, and I hadn't even noticed the music before because I couldn't really hear it, much less the many wonderful scenes when the "music" is just the background sound. That's all been fixed perfectly in this DVD.

But that's not all. Not only has this long-overlooked treasure of a movie been perfectly restored and preserved on DVD, but a very generous collection of newly recorded additional material has been added, and none of it is the cheesy promotional junk studios usually cram onto DVDs (there's not a single trailer or celebrity-hype "making of" feature).

There is an excellent audio commentary track by the director Fred Schepisi, plus two long video interviews with him and others involved in making the movie (and not one of them looks like George Clooney, thank God.) All of it is intelligent, informative and very interesting. To be honest, I'd never heard of Fred Schepisi before this, and I've never seen any of his later and more successful movies, but I'm a fan now.

I cannot recommend the older DVD version of this movie, still available through Amazon sellers, with a salacious and completely misleading cover photo of a priest leering at a cowering naked boy. Amazon describes that DVD as 1.33:1 [4:3] aspect ratio, so it may well be the same as the awful VHS. But I would recommend this new DVD enthusiastically to anybody with the slightest interest in this movie, or in intelligent, beautiful movies of any kind.

Just in case Amazon at some point combines reviews of the two DVD versions into one, I'm going to belabor the point: the version worth having is copyright 2008 and distributed by Industrial Entertainment, its ASIN is B001EAWMPG, and the UPC on my copy is 858334001381. The cover photo has a large profile of a boy, with an apparently naked adult man sitting in the background (the photos are from two completely separate scenes, by the way). I advise you to get it while you can.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
If you love boys, you will love Simon Burke in this film. 16 Jun. 2004
By William - Published on
Format: DVD
The charming child actor Simon Burke does a remarkable job connecting with his audience in this film. The film is about adolescent sex play and developing boys during puberty while confined to an all boys boarding school. The school is opressive but the boys use creative way's to survive this and try to love their developing bodies as best they can. Tom Allen (Simon Burke) has a charm about his smile that will get you in the heart and he knows how to act as well. The film is very well made and does accurately portray life in boys boarding schools. The Australian version of boys boarding schools seems to be much more opressive than the Brithish version of the same type of environment, of course this is from an American public school reviewer who has read a lot about these things. Note that this film is not a dark portrayal of life nor is it exploitive of boys sexuality. The boy's seem to have a ruggedness about their sexual curiosity that withstands the abuse of the system in the school. Also note that this film does not portray any sexual activity between the staff and the boys, but the staff sure has a botched up attitude about their own bodies. You will love the film.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
justin 15 April 2003
By "justintaylor291" - Published on
this would be no. 1 movie ever produced in australia about what goes on in an all boys boarding school and i would believethat all the examples in the movie are true. i went to a boarding school with only all boys and the sex that went on there was unbelievable. we all were involved and this movie really caused a stir here. i am pretty sure it was screened at the movies. it is a revelation as to what boys get up to to release there sexual needs. see it and enjoy. even the priests get in on the act BUT there is No hint of interferance with the boys
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Life-affirming 14 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I can see why this film won so many awards when it came out in 1976. It is beautifully acted by all the principal players, has some fine photography and at its core is the theme of the stultifying atmosphere of a Roman Catholic school for boys destined for the priesthood. But the hormone-laden youngsters fight a losing battle, and while some manage to suppress and progress down the path of righteousness, others fail and sin. It is a wonderful film thoroughly worth watching, unless you are looking for sexual titillation in which case you will be disappointed, as the subject is treated tastefully with subtlety and finesse.
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