KONGEN AV BASTØY

(aka King of Devil's Island)

Norway 2010 - 120 minutes
 

director.gif (905 bytes)Marius Holst

CAST

Stellan Skarsgård - The Principal
Benjamin Helstad - Erling
Kristoffer Joner - Tor
Trond Nilssen - Olaf
Magnus Langlete - Ivar
Ellen Dorrit Peterson - Astrid


PREMIERE DATE

Norway - December 17, 2010
Sweden - June 17, 2011


FILM FESTIVALS

Göteborg Int'l Film Festival (Sweden) - January 28, 2011
Edmonton Int'l Film Festival (Canada) - September 25, Nordic Film Days Lübeck (Germany) - November 6, 2011
and tons more...

 


SYNOPSIS

This true story of the infamous Bastøy Boys Home correctional facility in Norway begins with the arrival of seventeen-year-old Erling, a rumored murderer. He immediately clashes with the island facility’s governor, who believes manual labor, rigid discipline, and harsh punishment are the only methods that can turn the boys into honorable members of society. Refusing to accept the constant abuse, Erling slowly rouses the rest of the boys out of their resigned existence, and encourages them to fight to lift up their spirits. When tragedy finally falls at the hand of the sadistic dorm master, Erling leads his comrades in a courageous and vicious rebellion that will bring them head to head with no less than the Norwegian Army,


button_box.gif (205 bytes)PRODUCTION NOTES:

September 2009:
Announcement has been made that Stellan will be among the cast of a Norwegian independent film called  Kongen av Bastøy, directed by Marius Holst. Producer Karin Julsrud announced, "We have had a dialogue with Stellan since the summer but had not dared to believe he would accept. He was supposed to make an American movie, but for various reasons, he said 'yes' to us.
 He is our international anchor. This was what we wanted and hoped. That it worked is incredible." According to the producer, Stellan will play a complex person, who primarily believes in the strict system he oversees, but he experiences an ongoing power struggle. He will play the school headmaster. The action is based on events from real life, where dozens of boys between 10 and 20 years rebelled at the prison-like school at Bastøy in 1915. The state responded so by sending an armored ship with 150 armed soldiers to restore order in Bastøy.

March 2010:
Filming wrapped up this month for the
Norwegian blockbuster without Stellan even setting foot on Bastøy. Production, which began November 2nd, actually took place in Estonia where the infamous school was recreated just outside Horten's coastline.  Producer Karin Julsrud admits filming was challenging and had become hectic at times, but ultimately, she feels confident with the result. This was the film production company's (called 4 1/2) biggest investment but, fortunately, the filmmakers kept within the budget. "I am convinced the movie will be dramatically upsetting and a commercially successful and artistically interesting film, "said film consultant Nikolaj Frobenius length of the Norwegian Film Institute.

Stellan's comments on his role:
“I got worried when I first read the script because he’s obviously the bad guy, and I don’t believe in bad guys and good guys. So we started adding scenes that complicated his life. Then we realized his function had to be simpler, and so we had to work out other ways of making him richer. But working on those extra scenes was useful: when we took them away, the essence of them still remained in my acting.”

IMAGES
 
 

PRAISE FOR STELLAN:

"The tremendous young ensemble cast expertly defines their characters in stark opposition to the cool precision of Skarsgård and slimy wretch Joner. Their performances are equaled by John Andreas Anderson’s exemplary cinematography"   ...Seattle Int'l Film Festival critic

"As the stone-faced and venal governor, Skarsgård is excellent. So is Helstad as Erling, the film's strong, if tragic hero."  ...Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

"Stellan Skarsgård has never participated in a Norwegian film without raising the number of notches. Here he plays an outwardly strong character who is weak, cowardly and pathetic - but with a thin, hard steel wire of morality and righteousness deep inside him. It is a complex and interesting character, and the tour of a refined talent that we do not have anything like in the whole Nordic region."  ...Thor Willy Bakke, Cinerama, no

"Skarsgård's performance is a godsend, turning the superintendent into a man who genuinely thinks that he cares about his inmates' well-being, but is so entrenched in his job and his power that he makes not even the smallest attempt to change things for the better."   ...Chicago Int'l Film Festival critic

"Yet-another strong performance from the great Stellan Skarsgård and some very good work from a young cast of unknowns."   ...Hollywood Chicago

"Skarsgård is brilliant as always."   ...Fantasia Int'l Film Festival critic

"Hoist affords the always-excellent Skarsgård necessary leeway to find complexity in his character."   ...Glenn Heath, Jr., Slant Magazine

"Stellan Skarsgård is quite effective as Bestyreren, a man who mouths platitudes about how the school will help restore its boys to full and productive lives. He has an unreasonable optimism, given the reality of the school experience, which places emphasis on forced manual labor and punishment. Skarsgård evokes a studied detachment; he seems distracted from the reality at hand by his vague optimism."   ...Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Kristoffer Joner makes a frighteningly believable predator while Skarsgård creates a really perfect alloy of arrogance and cowardice."      ...Jay Seaver, efilmcritic.com

"Stellan Skarsgård, as the governor, is as watchable as ever, conveying concern and guilt despite his authoritative stance, while Kristoffer Joner is outstanding in a crucial role as the boys' biggest enemy; his sallow features and sunken eyes are perfect for the portrayal of the predatory Brathen, a sullen bully who has been rejected by adult society."    ...David Graham, Eye for Film

"Mr. Skarsgård gives Bestyreren just the right attitude of stubborn, narrowed-eyed rectitude."   ...Stephen Holden, NY Times

"The solid, at times brilliant acting is one of the keys in this respect, and particularly Swedish import Stellan Skarsgård and the young talent Trond Nilssen go deep into their respective characters' layered psyche. Comradery, courage and youthful dreaming is poignantly portrayed as the tortured kids try to find a way out of their secluded prison and back into the real world."   ...Arnadal.no

"Skarsgård and Joner shine, one as a decent man hemmed in by fear and misguided notions of care, and the other as a snake hiding in the midst of the grim, demanding atmosphere of the camp."   ...Moviemobsters.com

"Skarsgård is riveting throughout as a man whose high morality is steeped in hypocrisy and whose mask of civility easily slips, when challenged, to reveal the monster beneath. His ruin and grim-faced departure provide one of the film’s few moments of real elation."   ....Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star