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The Chocolate War (1988)

 -  Drama  -  18 November 1988 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,554 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 21 critic

A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Brother Leon
...
...
Archie (as Wally Ward)
...
Obie
Corey Gunnestad ...
Goober
...
Emile Janza (as Brent Fraser)
Robert Davenport ...
Brian Cochran
...
Lisa
...
Brother Jacques
...
Carter
...
Caroni
Wayne Young ...
Gregory Bailey
Kurt Bloom ...
Impressed Kid on Bus
Wyeth Orestes Johnston ...
Senior 'Environment' Kid
Landon Wine ...
Frank Bollo
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Storyline

A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by selling chocolates. Written by Brooke <soylent@ican.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Guerra do Chocolate  »

Box Office

Gross:

$303,624 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film had a paltry music budget of about $15,000. Most of the artists featured on the soundtrack allowed the filmmakers to use their songs at bargain basement prices. David Bowie, however, asked for $100,000 to utilize his song "Heroes" during the final scene and credits, so Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" was substituted. See more »

Quotes

Bill Carter: All right, Archie. As head assigner, you're the brains of this outfit and you also got us into this mess. Where do we go from here?
Archie Costello: [addressing the Vigils] Guys, you're all pushing the panic button for nothing. First of all, you can't go around beating up half the kids in the school that call us names. The brothers would shut us down in no time and people would really start sabatoging us if we started hurting people as a way of keeping everyone in line. That is why I like to lay off the ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)
(as "We Do What Were Told milgram's 37")
Written and Performed by Peter Gabriel
Used with permission of Hidden Pun Music (BMI) on behalf of Cliofine, Ltd. (PRS)
Courtesy of Geffen Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

A brilliant film with echoes of Lord of the Flies
18 July 2011 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

My perspective on this film is likely to be unique, in that I've never read the book. The critical reception and most user reviews widely criticize Keith Gordon's re-writing of the book's ending and this was ultimately reflected in its shocking performance at the box office. If you've never read the book, you can effectively ignore all criticism, because The Chocolate War is arguably one of the finest films to explore the dark underbelly of teenage cruelty, manipulation and the childhood induction of the mob mentality and a superb directorial debut for Keith.

John Glover's performance as the twisted and politically carnivorous Brother Leon is stunning and easily his best work. With echoes of Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War explores the outer reaches of cruelty, fear and control exercised by the two antagonistic forces of the student led secret society The Vigils, and the school's acting school head - Brother Leon. Anyone who has ever been bullied or coerced to side with bullies out of the necessity for self-preservation will find a string of painful moments to relate to in this film.

The soundtrack is a masterpiece of emotion. The intro to Peter Gabriel's "We Do What We're Told" is used as a recurring musical theme providing an atmospheric backdrop to the web of cruelty and manipulation that unfolds for Jerry the protagonist. But the revelation is the haunting piano of "Shepherd's Song" by Scott Cossu, which holds the space for Jerry's introspection, his loss and the tragedy of his situation.

Yes, there are some elements lacking in this film - namely the performance of the hero (Jerry) played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith and some of the dated directorial techniques adopted by Keith Gordon for the flashback sequences and other scenes. However the strength of the story, soundtrack and performances from John Glover and Wallace Langham tower above the film's shortcomings. Keep in mind this was Gordon's feature film directorial debut.

I'm not going to comment on the ending, other than to say it works perfectly for the narrative of this film and is in no way disappointing. To the contrary, it still moves me to tears despite more than half a dozen viewings of this film over the years.

The Chocolate War is difficult to find but absolutely essential viewing.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD finally on the way!/Comment on ending RGsboy
Finally a DVD date! runamokprods
Soundtrack mistermycroft
Why change the book? jasonay
I THINK THEY SHOULD REMAKE THE CHOCOLATE WAR MOVIE diamond6727
Loved the movie ! - Should I read the book? vash_da_stampede
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