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Fred Schepisi's film, 'The Devil's Playground' is an intimate portrait of Tom, a thirteen-year-old struggling in spirit and body with the constraints of living in a Catholic seminary. It is also the story of the Brothers and how they cope with the demands of their faith. Written by
Fred Schepisi's Australian drama from 1976 is a semi-autobiographical quite straightforward movie about the life and growing pains of both Fathers, Brothers and boys at a Roman Catholic boarding school, in 1953. Within Australia, it is considered amongst the top 50 films ever made there.
There are as many personal dilemmas and demons in the Brother's lives as there are in the boy's. Probably more. For someone who is not a Catholic, for me there's always the ever overpowering lecturing on sins of the flesh and such, particularly pertinent with pubescent boys, of course.
However, taking this aside and concentrating on the characters and the individual stories, these are solidly interesting and, thank goodness, the script is suitable for the 15 certificate, so there is no blushing at the natural use of grubby schoolboy banter.
There was also a slightly surprising amount of nudity, the strongest scene of which comes as a dream by one of the Brothers. The acting is uniformly very good, all natural, both boys and adults.
Radio Times said that The Devil's Playground 'takes us no further into the issue than a legion of others have before' and whilst I've far from seen them all, I'd have to agree.
Best bet buying the DVD is the Australian Cinema collection vol 1, a 12 film boxset and that is exactly where I got and saw my copy from.
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