Surprisingly good. While it doesn't avoid the common clichés associated with prison movies, The King of Devil’s Island wears them quite well. First, Helstad and Nilssen are damn impressive! Second, the character development is outstanding as all of the main protagonists grow in their self-awareness. Lastly, I loved the look of the film, with its dark blues and wintry greys, and the well utilized musical score.
1915-reformatory in the norwegian fjords. A new inmate, harder than the other boys, winds up motivating the other boys into eventual rebellion. Nothing new here in either the prison or wayward youth genre but told with conviction despite cliche. Boys are well cast as is Stellan Skarsgard as the governor of the facility. Nothing special but worth a look. I also found the 'Titanic' illusion laughable.
A prison story focusing on the abuse of power done extremely right. The heart and soul of "King of Devil's Island" is as warm as it is raw; as if William Golding had written Alan Clarke's "Scum" and set it in Norway. While the Bastøy prison system is now known for its elegant liberalism, this film portrays children under siege, fighting for what they see as morality. Beautifully and flawlessly executed.
A token bully film, albeit this time in the wilderness, where teachers scare and abuse their students in a variety of ways, applying different techniques. At times beautiful, but mostly very linear and obvious. A couple of stellar performances from the boy actors, but otherwise just a clean walkthrough.
This film bears many parallels to a recent Finnish film called 'Home of Dark Butterflies' and where that one fails this one triumphs. Solid acting, superb cinematography and a subtle and restrained score all help flesh it out. It's just a shame that it doesn't really offer anything we haven't seen before in any number of sadistic prison films and lord-of-the-flies type stories. 3 stars
Almost five stars - one of the best norwegian films I've seen. Not artistically intriguing, but as a classic, powerful story it's almost perfect; suspenseful and touching. And the acting is awesome! I predict our first Oscar-nomination in ten years.