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Devil's Playground (2002)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,181 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 10 critic

Amish teenagers experience and embrace the modern world as a rite-of-passage before deciding which life they will choose.

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Title: Devil's Playground (2002)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Velda Bontrager ...
Herself
Mark Bontrager ...
Himself
Dewayne Chupp ...
Himself
Dylan Cole ...
Himself
Matt Eash ...
Himself
Sally Fisher ...
Herself
Marty Fry ...
Himself
John Groff ...
Himself (as John)
Lisa Groff ...
Herself
Andy Herschberger ...
Himself
Joann Hochstetler ...
Herself
Jesse Kaufman ...
Himself
Carol Lambright ...
Herself
Dale Lambright ...
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Ervin Lambright ...
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Storyline

Amish teenagers experience and embrace the modern world as a rite-of-passage before deciding which life they will choose.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Which path will they choose?

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Documentary

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|

Release Date:

11 January 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Djævelens legeplads  »

Filming Locations:

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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in The 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

The Terran Invasion of Alpha Centauri Year 2794
Written by DJ Spooky (as Paul D. Miller)
Performed by DJ Spooky
Published by Subliminal Kid Publishing (BMI)
Courtesy of Asphodel Ltd.
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
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User Reviews

 
Informative Yet Disturbing
20 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sex, drugs, heavy metal/rap music, Nintendo. These are not things one would normally associate with the Amish, but there you go, it's time to learn about DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND Most of us probably view the Amish as isolationists and backward thinkers. They don't use electricity or modern conveniences. They travel by horse and carriage. They dedicate themselves to their church and community for life or are banished if they give up the church and head out into the "English" world. This is mostly true, except for one period in an Amish person's life.

At age 16, all children of Amish parents are given the option of Rumspringa (Pennsylvania Dutch for "running around"). Rumspringa can last minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even years, depending on the individual. During this time they are allowed to do whatever they like, which includes drinking, sexual relations, smoking, driving (cars), and doing illicit drugs.

One such person is Faron, an 18-year-old son of an Amish minister. He's been out of his parents' house for almost two years and gets involved with crystal meth dealers in order to support his own drug habit. His life spirals out of control, but his parents are helpless to do anything about it because of the Rumspringa tradition. Faron has to choose his own path. But with peer pressures so high, the decision is not an easy one for kids who want to explore a world beyond the Amish communities they grew up in. You can't help but cringe with fear as Faron drops in and out of the drug culture, nearly gets himself killed in a car accident, and eventually finds love and a decent job many miles away from his parents.

Other kids have similar issues, but battle more with internal conflicts than external pleasures and material things. One is Velda, a pretty Amish girl who left her community and found depression nesting within her. Trying to discover who she was without the help of her family and her church leads her down some dark paths but she eventually succeeds in life by finding a job and going to college; quite a surprise considering the Amish don't educate their young beyond the 8th grade level.

This documentary certainly was an eye-opener. Who would've thought that the Amish deal with similar problems that non-Amish parents are forced to deal with? The information gathered by the film makers is impressive but limited, as the Amish become reclusive once they join the church. But the kids have no such qualms about being filmed since they have yet to take their oath.

I am disturbed mostly by the fact that the Amish don't educate their young beyond a certain grade level because they feel it causes too much "pride" (one of the seven deadly sins). But this also creates an interesting paradox. If you don't educate your kids, they are destined for menial jobs. The upside (I guess) is that this makes it difficult to support themselves if they decide to try and make a go at living in the outside world. Not surprisingly, the return rate from Rumspringa back to the church is 90 percent.


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