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King of Devil's Island

53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This true story of the infamous Bastøy Boys Home correctional facility in Norway, begins with the arrival of seventeen-year-old Erling, a rumored murderer. He immediately clashes with the island facility's governor (Stellan Skarsgård), who believes manual labor, rigid discipline, and harsh punishment are the only methods that can turn the boys into honorable members of society. Refusing to accept the constant abuse, Erling slowly rouses the rest of the boys out of their resigned existence, and encourages them to fight to lift up their spirits. When tragedy finally falls at the hand of the sadistic dorm master, Erling leads his comrades in a courageous and vicious rebellion that will bring them head to head with no less than the Norwegian Army.


HAUNTING! Skarsgård is excellent as always and Moody atmospherics enhance the conventional structure. --New York Daily News

EXCELLENT! Marius Holst gives the proceedings a fresh look, thanks to his sturdy acting, direction and cinematography. --New York Post

HYPNOTIC! Brooding & evocative. --The Village Voice

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Stellan Skarsgard, Kristoffer Joner, Benjamin Helstad, Trond Nilssen
  • Directors: Marius Holst
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Norwegian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005J47Q90
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,554 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The chilling true life tale told in the Norwegian drama "King of Devil's Island" is not dissimilar to the topic of a dozen other films I could list without even breaking a sweat. Essentially set in a reform school, if a rather dramatically located one, not much about the story's actual plot will surprise you. Similar narrative arcs have been recounted in numerous books, movies, and TV shows. Yet, I credit the film's screenplay, director, and (especially) its cast for making a well-worn topic seem vital and unexpected. Norway's controversial Bastoy Reform School, set on a remote and desolate island, makes for a memorable setting and this bleak and wintry locale acts almost as one of the piece's central characters. As the fog rolls in or the fjord freezes over, the stark visual imagery and demanding physical environment supports the notion that, at heart, this is a survival drama more than anything else.

A menacing Stellan Skarsgard plays the facility's upright Governor. He has, rightfully, received acclaim for this performance and indeed he is one of the more underrated and versatile actors working today. But foremost, this is a movie that is distinguished by its young cast. Benjamin Helstad plays a new internee with a healthy disrespect for authority. His counterpart is a trustee near the end of his stay played by Trond Nilssen. Despite having very different viewpoints, the boys form an unexpected bond. As their friendship grows, it is easy to see how each actually challenges the other to be a better person. And ultimately, they both seek a world of justice and fairness even if it means standing up against the disciplinary system in place. One case of physical abuse starts a ball rolling that neither seem willing or able to stop.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on July 5, 2012
Format: DVD
I'm still trying to put into words how I feel about this film. It is so much deeper and more fulfilling than I initially expected and so I'm still piecing together exactly what it left me with. I was really expecting a more generically constructed film; a film that was more on the clichéd and genre side of things. With a quote like "Skarsgard is terrifying" pasted on the top of the poster, my mind blocked in the possibilities and basically centered on `young boys are treated harshly by heartless man' with no wiggle room for what I was really presented with.

Marius Holst is a genius.

`King of Devil's Island' tells the true story of the Bastoy Boys, young men sent to Bastoy Island to a correctional facility where their childish ways are to be worked out of them. The facility is governed by a stern yet complex man (there is so much more behind those eyes than one could imagine). Bastoy is shaken with the arrival of two youths, Erling and Ivar. Erling is a repressed soul, rough and not one who easily bends to authority. Ivar is a quieter and more impressionable young man; easily taken advantage of and almost instantly becomes the target of a housefather with questionable intentions. Erling comes under the wing of Olav, a fellow Bastoy Boy who is a few weeks shy of getting his ticket home after spending six long years on the island. As the days pass and Erling continually bucks authority, refusing to learn the rules, life is turned upside down when the morals and convictions of the boys and those in positions of power is questioned and confronted.

The script is fantastic, dissecting the raw humanity found in each of the film's main characters. Holst's direction is a major asset for he understands how to mold such intensity between the lines.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 12, 2012
Format: 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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