King of Devil's Island
Slow-burning but satisfying prison drama starring Stellan Skarsgård
There is a steely Dickensian sweep to King Of Devil’s Island, a grimly compelling dramatisation of true events from 1915. The notorious correctional facility for ‘maladjusted’ boys on Bastoy Island belongs to the pages of Oliver Twist. The desolate, wintry location off the coast of Norway is as atmospheric as the marshlands where Pip first encounters Magwitch in Great Expectations. Rank injustice, rebellion and the celebration of an indominatable human spirit are also the kind of themes that Dickens might have admired
It may sound old-fashioned but director Marius Holst lends a fresh conviction to the familiar cliches of the prison melodrama. Seventeen-year-old Erling (Benjamin Helstad) arrives at Bastoy trailing rumours that he has killed a man. He quickly realises that he is trapped in a hell on earth where weary governor Hakon (Stellan Skarsgård) maintains an unwavering belief in hard manual labour. Erling’s determination to escape and to rouse his fellow inmates into defiance makes him the hero of a slow-burning but satisfying drama that persuasively blends elements of Scum and Papillon.
Selected release from Fri 27 Jul.