DVD review: King of Devil’s Island (4 out of 5 stars)

As the the first world war raged on during 1915, in Norway there was another battle taking place on a remote island - a battle of wills.

Monday, 29th October 2012, 7:32 am

King of Devil’s Island was released in 2012 to great acclaim and now this superb movie has been released by Arrow Films on DVD and Blu-ray.

Based on the real events that took place at the young offenders’ institute, the film is hard-hitting and gritty, thanks to the superb acting by the cast, many of whom were unknown at the time.

Stellan Skarsgard (The Avengers, Mamma Mia, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is the big ‘name’ but the likes of Benjamin Helstad, Trond Nilssen and Kristoffer Joner are far from just supporting actors.

One of the biggest factors Scandanavian countries have for emotive movie-making is their climate and the natural surroundings, and director Marius Holst uses the stark wintry background to great effect for some haunting shots.

The story starts with the arrival of Erling (Helstad) to the island, determined to both escape and not be a subservient prisoner.

However, the odds are against him as the governor (Skarsgard) runs the place with an iron fist, to a degree that even the authorities don’t know about.

He is backed up by the guards and, of course, the fierce cold that saps the spirit of the young offenders.

The pressure all builds up to an explosive finale.

Although there is a certain inevitability about the conclusion to the story for many of the youngsters, there is a satisfying element of hope injected by the writers.

Overall, it’s a quality movie that reveals how even in the depths of despair the human spirit can survive.

The King of Devil’s Island is released on DVD and Blu-Ray, cert 12, priced £17.99.

Steve Payne