King of Devil's Island

The Norwegian drama King of Devil's Island (Kongen av Bastøy), King of Devil's Islanddistributed by the excellent Film Movement, that brings so many high quality foreign movies to the English speaking world, is a dark, chilling movie that tells an extraordinary tale in a truly gripping fashion. It is set in Norway in 1915, on a winter-clad, snowy island in the dark and icy Oslo fjord. It is visually stunning, atmospherically quite eerie, extremely evocative of place, and mesmerizing in many ways. The King of Devil's Island won the Palmera De Oro prize (Golden Palm) for Best Film of the Year, from Mostra de Valencia Film Festival/ Spain.

The bleak, cold snowy island is a boys prison. A place it is impossible to escape from. There young boys who committed crimes - small and big - but were to young to serve prison terms were sent. It was viewed as an institution where the boys could "improve themselves". In reality it was a place where they were subjected to extremely harsh conditions, more or less as slave workers, and subjected to exploitation and violence.

The island is real, and was formerly a penal institution of the kind described in the movie. King of Devil's Island is based on a true story by Mette M. Bølstad and Lars Saabye Christensen and was adapted for the screen by Dennis Magnusson and Eric Schmid. The fine and very well-performing cast was directed by Norwegian movie director Marius Holst.

Stellan Skarsgard - King of Devil's IslandThe young boys in The King of Devil's Island are aged 11 to 18. The daily, sadistic regime is run by guards headed by the Governor (Bestyreren - Stellan Skarsgard - see image) who is a stern but seemingly fair manager. However, the more immediate boss for the boys is the Housemaster - an amoral pedophile named Master Bråthen (Kristoffer Joner). His regime is malicious in the extreme, and his reign of terror bestows both mental and physical abuse on the boys. Increasingly, as some of the boys are pushed to the extreme limits of endurance, the tension rises, to the point when it all explodes.

The King of Devil's Island is a hard - at times almost terrifying - movie to watch. At the same time it is gripping and fascinating. The acting is first rate - quite excellent actually. And Stellan Skarsgard does a terrific job - as always. The movie is in Norwegian with English subtitles. The King of Devil's Island is a moody, very powerful movie. One of the very best foreign movies of 2012 so far, in my opinion.

Product Details

  • Actors: Stellan Skarsgard, Kristoffer Joner, Benjamin Helstad, Trond Nilssen
  • Directors: Marius Holst
  • Format: Color, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Norwegian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 115 minutes

Kissed by Winter

Kissed by WinterKissed by Winter (Vinterkyss) is a contemplative, quiet, understated Norwegian movie. However, even though it is understated and in many ways a movie with few words and hardly one wasted word, it is a powerful and impressive movie that is touching.

Kissed by Winter is filmed in Sweden and Norway, mostly during the winter. The cast is mixed, with actors both from Norway and Sweden, and starring Norwegian actor Kristoffer Joner and Swedish actress Annika Hallin.

Kissed by Winter paints a real, hard, unsentimental picture of what can happen to a normal couple when disaster strikes. After some event - we don't know what has happened - Victoria (Annika Hallin) starts a new life as a doctor in small, snowy Norwegian town.

One winter morning two kids find a young man dead in the snow. The police officer assumes the dead teenager has been hit by the snow plow and then buried under the snow. The driver of the snowplow is a man Victoria has started a sort of relationship with. Now Viktoria, already burdened by sorrow, has to deal with death and possible loss in her new surroundings. We follow her as the stories of there and then and here and now get intertwined and reinforce one another.

Annika HallinActress Annika Hallin (see image) performs brilliantly, playing on a wide repertoir of small understated movements and minute gestures she manages more than many an actress could with a waterfall of tears. Her frozen face and sad eyes bring the devastating pain that her character feels to every viewer. It is a strong tale of guild and sorrow. I liked this great movie from Norway a lot - Kissed by Winter made an impression and will stay with me for a long time.

Pruduct Details

  • Actors: Gran Ragnerstam, Kristoffer Joner, Fridtjov Saheim, Trine Wiggen, Annika Hallin
  • Directors: Sara Johnsen
  • Format: Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Norwegian/Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
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