King of Devil’s Island

 

In the deep winter of 1915, 17-year-old Erling (Benjamin Helstad) is shipped off to Bastøy, a correctional institution on an island run by a warden (Stellan Skarsgård) who believes in firm discipline. Based on a real-life story, this portrayal of a violent uprising among the tormented delinquents at Bastøy shows us that what goes around comes around. Authorities that are unable to offer real role models or a sense of justice fuel an inevitable backlash. Director Marius Holst tells it in a straightforward manner that may seem overly familiar, but benefits from the beauty of the film’s forbidding frozen environs and Skarsgård’s performance.

2010-Norway-France-Sweden-Poland. 120 min. Color. Widescreen.Produced by Karin Julsrud. Directed by Marius Holst. Screenplay: Dennis Magnusson, Eric Schmid. Cinematography: John Andreas Andersen. Cast: Stellan Skarsgård (Håkon), Benjamin Helstad (Erling), Trond Nilssen (Olva), Kristoffer Joner, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Magnus Langlete.

Trivia: Original title: Kongen av Bastøy.

Last word: “The logistical side of it was tough but we are Norwegians. To have to work and perform in those conditions was more difficult for teenaged boys who get tired of it. We were living there and sleeping there. There were no studios and it was isolated as it was at that time. As a director the temperature was the least of your problems but it was tough, not uncomfortable.” (Holst, Criticize This!)

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