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Devil's Playground

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Acclaimed writer/director Fred Schepisi s (Roxanne, The Russia House, Empire Falls) first feature is the accomplished and currently pertinent story of boy s coming of age set in an Australian Catholic boys school.

Based on the director s experiences in a monastery, repressed desires meet Christian doctrine head-on. Winner of five Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Film (1976).

Special Features include:
Retrospective documentary on the making of Devil s Playground
Commentary by Fred Schepisi
Schepisi on film making

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Arthur Dignam, Nick Tate, Simon Burke, Charles McCallum
  • Directors: Fred Schepisi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Industrial Ent
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001EAWMPG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,872 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Devil's Playground" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
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.Read more ›
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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.
Read more ›
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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.
William.
2 Comments 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on April 15, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
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
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