King of Devil's Island Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 3, 2012
Ok. I am convinced..Stellan Skarsgard + movie role = quality film! This based-on-a-true-story film is top-notch good. This is what great filmmaking is all about. A magnificent, and unforgettable film. Every scene is perfect, each actor's performance is spot on. If this movie doesn't touch you on some level, I don't know what will. My ONLY complaint is there was no follow up summary, but I guess we can all google things these days..so I forgive them...
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2011
For those who like true stories and abhor cruelty and injustice, this is your film.
c0up
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2012
'The King of Devil's Island'. A sobering tale on the abuse of power and the small rebellions that can lead to outright chaos.

The grim, beautiful Norwegian winter plays a fine backdrop to all round solid performances.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2012
Don't know what part of it is true and what's not, but it's a been-there-seen-it-all plot. The problem here is that the movie neither enlightens nor entertains. The Devil's Island needs a better king.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
April 27, 2013
In 1915, Erling(Benjamin Helstad) and Ivar(Magnus Langlete) are sent to the boys reform camp on Bastoy Island, under the stewardship of its governor, Bestyreren(Stellan Skarsgard), who assigns them to C dorm with its very watchful housefather, Brathen(Kristoffer Joner). Bestyreren has taken a special interest in Erling who he feels Bastoy would be a better fit than prison, since Erling had previously been in the navy, employing the promise of an eventual release in exchange for good behavior. Erling begs to disagree, as he soon starts planning his escape.

"King of Devil's Island" is a slow and predictable movie that occasionally feels like a Norwegian juvenile version of "Cool Hand Luke," as Erling has definite problems with authority, trying to tick them off at every turn. That takes away a lot from any possible emotional impact that "The King of Devil's Island" might have had when it severely remarks on the past treatment of children where wayward ones(that said, it is possible Erling killed someone) were sent to a remote island that contained the very real threats of corporal punishment, humiliation and sexual abuse.(Bullying is a bit on the light side, though.) And as a specific true story, it probably more or less concerns the more dramatic third act.
mvieaddict
Super Reviewer
December 10, 2011
Kongen av BastÝy was based on actual events that happened on the BastÝy correctional facility for difficult boys, back in 1915.The story was dramatic and tragic, as well as true. It told the Norwegian history back then when the country was poor, and how it was to be sent on a whaling ship, being a young guy from difficult background.The director made the story quite possible since it was based on true events, You have to care for the characters since these young boys on this facility were not the easy ones, they were brutal, uneducated, unable to show affection and victims of a difficult past.Near the end I expected it to be different ,but it took a strange twist to wrap up the story. Very well done. Do not expect a happy ending, as you won't get any and it was about 2 hours without any pleasant events.
May 29, 2014
A drama based on true story about the notorious boys' prison in Norway that was shut down several decades ago. Just like other dramas based on prison life, this drama displays how good deeds and monstrosity alike can be found in either side. The latter half of the movie, while not entirely satisfactory, is deeply haunting and would leave the audience somewhat heart-broken. Nonetheless, it is overall a very worthy watch, especially for those who always long to see justice established on both sides.
February 18, 2011
Kongen av BastÝy (King of Devil's Island) is a wonderful piece of Norwegian cinema; based on a true story about the "BastÝy Boys Home", a correctional facility for juvenile 'delinquents' in Norway, in 1915. This film is about survival amongst the harshness, and the rebellion towards the facility's cruel system, and resistance to the abuse, and oppression the so-called 'correctional facility' lay upon the boys. These boys get disciplined by the common whip, food rationing, isolation, humiliation, and the like. This is only one of the things that may be the cause of a vicious uprising.

I thought this film was great, taking place in the cold, dull Norwegian winter. The cinematography is lovely and desolate; alongside the hellishly well done performances--they were convincing, as far as I'm concerned. The story is also simple, yet compelling--and I thought it was conveyed decently, nonetheless, well told. There are some definite heart-wrenching scenes in the film; it has an interesting portrayal of tragedy and sullen bleakness. What else can I say? I thought it was well worth the watch, and quite interesting. The costumes are great, the score is also commendable, and the story is intriguing. It's a solid film.
October 8, 2012
Awesome Movie based on a true story.. the acting was brilliant, storyline was interesting, and it was very realistic.. highly recommend watching.
½ June 29, 2012
An evocative drama based on a real-life event of a 1915 uprising that occurred at the infamous Bastoy Boys Home correctional facility on an island in the Oslo Fjord that housed the institution that was supposed to prepare wayward boys (ages 11+) for their re-introduction into society whenever that was deemed fit. The facility was actually a place of rampant abuse and psychological terror as the adults running the place were free to physically abuse and torture the boys as they had little-to-no other supervision (it was their word against the troublesome boys‚(TM) ‚¶ think The Magdalene Sisters only for young men). This is the story of 17-year-old sailor -- and rumored murderer -- Erling (Benjamin Helstad) who is sent to the island facility to be reformed of his troublesome ways. Outspoken and intolerant of slights, Erling quickly clashes with the island‚(TM)s governor (Stellan Skarsgard ‚" Good Will Hunting, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Mamma Mia!) who believes in strict, authoritarian control (which allows for physical abuse). Realizing that the only way to ‚survive‚? the island is to get in good with the governor‚(TM)s golden boy Olav (Trong Nilssen) who is scheduled to ‚leave‚? the island in a short period of time, Erling hopes to convince the young man the island is a place of frequent, inhumane abuses (Olav already knows this; but is he willing to risk his upcoming freedom to help the other hundred boys on the island?). A tragedy that comes from the sexual abuse of a dormitory master (Kristoffer Joner) brings the tension to such a boiling point it could not possibly be overlooked by those off of the island ‚" or could it ‚" it what sets the uprising in motion. King of Devil‚(TM)s Island is a riveting, psychological drama that unfortunately (for some) has subtitles that will keep many from viewing it. This is an oft-told story that could play like a re-run; but this movie never comes across as such. The story is almost 100 years old (!) but it comes across as timeless as treacherous authority is a constant. I recommend this film. It is small but it packs a powerful punch.
June 10, 2012
Quite a good movie which gets your ire up in the conventional way. But when it comes time for the revolt, you're good and ready for it. I almost felt like a character in Lord of the Flies.
June 21, 2015
The Scandinavian film industry is alive and well....and ready to teach everyone else...how to do it right!!!!
½ March 28, 2015
Super Reviewer said it best:
For those who like true stories and abhor cruelty and injustice,
this is your film.
May 24, 2014
Based on a true story this gripping account of a 1915 Norwegian boys correctional facility shows the abuse endured by the young inmates of the island and the heroic banding together that it took to overthrow their oppressors in a violent uprising. Great and tragic film with one silver lining of hope and courage in the end!
½ November 23, 2011
The film plays well, and is involving, but in one form or another, this is a story often told.
January 25, 2013
King of Devil's Island (Norwegian: Kongen av BastÝy) Norwegian film, written by Dennis Magnusson and directed by Marius Holst. Starring Stellan SkarsgŚrd and Benjamin Helstad, Kristoffer Joner. It received premier at LŁbeck Nordic Film Days. It was filmed in Estonia - based on the actual events that occurred at BastÝy Prison (few miles away from Oslo fjord, Norway).

Set in 1915 - Bestyreren (Stellan) is head of the escape-proof BastÝy detention prison at small islet, funded by the Church. Every now and then juveniles are sailed on boat to detention center, to be brought-up under discipline and code-of-conduct. At detention-center strict and aggressive punishments are carried out against boys who violate the rules - hidden from church.

In the opening of movie a new inmate Erling/C-19 (Benjamin Helstad) is sailed to island - C-19 believes he does not belong there and often challenges Bestyreren's rules and punishments. Bestyreren makes sure that C-19 goes through severe punishments for violating rules so that he fit in the environment. These punishments include, standing whole night on stool without sleeping; carrying boulders in harsh icy weather; physical assault, fetching ration under heavy rain from forests.

C-19 attempts to escape the prison on a boat, in the search collects broken-saw to cut chains attached to boat. He often narrates to his new friend to write, about his prevailing memory of a whale with three harpooned thrown at it - which dies slow death. The news of a house-father repeatedly sexually abusing one of the boys whirl around like twister - giving lift-off to uprising.

Anyone who misses on to watching escape-proof prison movies - this Norwegian film is gift for you. The fact that it is made on actual events, makes it even enthralling to watch. Ultimate rise of rebellion among tiny bunch of boys at prison. Challenge taken by young boy to take on adult men in power.

Norway has been offering us quality movies for some years now - it is noticing that countries like Norway and Indonesia have been rising booming cinemas. Last century belonged to Sweden in Scandinavian part, this time certainly Norway is replacing her.
½ October 8, 2013
A film based on a true uprising, a film about forming a friendship in a hostile environment and a film about the responsibility to act when one observes injustices.
September 30, 2013
Awesome Movie, would love to see it again.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
April 27, 2013
In 1915, Erling(Benjamin Helstad) and Ivar(Magnus Langlete) are sent to the boys reform camp on Bastoy Island, under the stewardship of its governor, Bestyreren(Stellan Skarsgard), who assigns them to C dorm with its very watchful housefather, Brathen(Kristoffer Joner). Bestyreren has taken a special interest in Erling who he feels Bastoy would be a better fit than prison, since Erling had previously been in the navy, employing the promise of an eventual release in exchange for good behavior. Erling begs to disagree, as he soon starts planning his escape.

"King of Devil's Island" is a slow and predictable movie that occasionally feels like a Norwegian juvenile version of "Cool Hand Luke," as Erling has definite problems with authority, trying to tick them off at every turn. That takes away a lot from any possible emotional impact that "The King of Devil's Island" might have had when it severely remarks on the past treatment of children where wayward ones(that said, it is possible Erling killed someone) were sent to a remote island that contained the very real threats of corporal punishment, humiliation and sexual abuse.(Bullying is a bit on the light side, though.) And as a specific true story, it probably more or less concerns the more dramatic third act.
March 30, 2013
Slow but steady anticipation until the action but worth the wait.
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