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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Papillon meets Scum in the snow and ice
King of Devil's Island is an unashamedly traditional genre movie, taking the prison escape movie and merging it with the boys borstal tradition - brutal wardens, physical and sexual abuse and setting it on an ice-ridden island in Norway, 1915. What sets this film apart is the fact that it is based on real and very dramatic events and the central performance of the great...
Published 21 months ago by Jonathan Haworth

versus
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Harrassing, to say the least
I love Stellan Skarsgard but this film was not quite up to standard. I found it difficult to watch this
film. The boys were good, the subject matter was grim and the weather though out was awful.
Published 19 months ago by Charlie


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Papillon meets Scum in the snow and ice, 23 Oct 2012
This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
King of Devil's Island is an unashamedly traditional genre movie, taking the prison escape movie and merging it with the boys borstal tradition - brutal wardens, physical and sexual abuse and setting it on an ice-ridden island in Norway, 1915. What sets this film apart is the fact that it is based on real and very dramatic events and the central performance of the great Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard. The other amazing fact is that all of the boys are non-actors, plucked from schools across Norway, chosen for their natural acting abilities and physical attributes. The film has you engrossed throughout and is reminiscent of the excellent Nordic film Evil, which was also set in a boys school but at the other extreme of the privilige scale.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True and Harrowing Story from Norway's Penal Past, 12 Nov 2012
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true story, 5 Nov 2012
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This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
At first I thought oh no its just another prison is brutal story ; aka the green mile or shawshank etc etc . But this isnt sentimental . Skarsgard and all the other actors are brilliant as are the shots of the ice and snow . I became totally and utterly gripped by the boys stories . This is a story of morality and choices we make .Suprising it has a 12 certificate as it is quite brutal [ but not ott graphic ] so I guess younger viewers can see how brutal norway used to be in its treatment of offenders . Another scandi classic .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Devil's Island to Holiday Camp. That's Progress!, 9 Dec 2012
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
What with all the care home scandals and the Russian doll Police enquiry into the Jimmy Saville child abuse scandal, films don't get much more topical than this one. The recent film "Oranges and Sunshine" highlighted the scandal of child deportation to Australia in the postwar years, where many ended up abused in places similar to Irelands's Magdalene laundries. At long last countries are having to come to terms with both past and present child abuse. This time it is Norway's turn! The chilling island of Bastoy is the austere location for a boys correctional home. No coconuts there to escape on! It is set during the time of the First World War before political correctness ran riot with society. Soldiers suffering from shell shock were shot for cowardice, and bad boys were meted out brutal treatment through institutionalised physical abuse. One boy is systematically sexually abused by the Housefather Braaten, in a stand out performance by Kristoffer Joner. This leads to seismic events on the island which even the impassive governor played by the ever watchable Stellan Skarsgard has difficulty in turning a blind eye to.

The film is a fictionalised retelling of the rebellion of the boys on Bastoy island in 1915. Filmed on location in Estonia the wintry landscape is perfect for such a dark story and substitutes seamlessly for Norway. Presumably production costs are cheaper in Estonia and the beer is more reasonably priced in Tallinn! The tale is well acted by the young cast, headed by Benjamin Helstad and Trond Nilssen. The peerless Skarsgard goes back to his grass roots, and like the earlier "Insomnia" gives a powerful performance in the chilling conditions. The Scandanavians are drawn to stark grim films like moths to the flame. It must be the depression that sets in as a result of those long polar like winters. Their exellent crime dramas are not noted for their cheeriness, as are the glut of novels from that area. This one is no exception and does not make easy viewing for its nearly 2 hour running time. But stick with it as it does make for a deeply involving film. As a viewer I felt angry at the boys treatment, and deep frustration at the injustice of it all. It is well filmed, well acted, and has a story worth telling. Bastoy is now apparently much more progressive to the extent that the inmates now live in cottages, their food is provided by a chef, and they enjoy such delights as a sauna, tennis and horseback riding. Sadly I am too old too apply for for a free holiday on the Norwegian government! Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far the other way??
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good film, 5 Jun 2014
By 
K. Gill "In the Kitchen With" (Nashville) - See all my reviews
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Based on a true story, hard to believe places like this existed. I loved the cinematography. The story is based on a true story, I seem to understand, and to this extent the film was nice. Obviously a bit upsetting to know that people went through this. I like the adventuresome aspect of the film. It's nice, though some people may believe it is the perfect airplane movie, not a good movie to purchase!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best foreign films, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
Outstanding account of a youth's endeavor to enlist help from his comrades, in righting many wrongs in a prison type environment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rare. On all fronts., 27 Oct 2013
By 
Morticia Crone "merridwynn" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King of Devil's Island [DVD] (DVD)
Not often do you come across a film like this.

So many youths providing flawless, stellar performances. Not a single moment when the viewer becomes aware of watching a constructed event.

The script is perfect. The setting and scenery superb. The passion and drama alone, aside from the truth of the story, make it absolutely worth watching.

Imho, the blurb does not do the film justice, as it is about far more than merely the new arrival. It is about what he inspires in the other youths.

This story does not revolve around hope or survival. This story is about individuals who come to find not only their true voice, but that they have a voice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kings of Devils Land, 13 July 2013
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Bought this after a recommendation from someone. Unusual film but enjoyed it, different to anything we have seen before but worth watching.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly executed, 7 Mar 2013
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I picked up this movie while on a Scandinavian phase, and it's one of the better ones.

It looks and sounds great with the Norwegian setting and understated soundtrack. Both adding to a very atmospheric feel.

Performances are all flawless, Skarsgard keeps you on the fence throughout. Similar genre to magdalene sisters or song for a rangy boy, the ending was unexpected with echoes of lord of the files.

Will appeal to anyone liking good honest and well executed film making.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST SEE MOVIE, 13 Feb 2013
I can assure you, that this is, the best norwegian movie made so far! It has a fantastic illustration of the reality that happened on Bastøy. Great picture, a wonderfull and capturing music, believable and talented actors, and a professional and well thought through story line. Marius Holst has outdone himself, and I cannot wait for his next project.
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King of Devil's Island [DVD]
King of Devil's Island [DVD] by Marius Holst (DVD - 2012)
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