Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Devil's Island

A film by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, written by Einar Kárason (Icelandic title: Djöflaeyjan), 1996.

This DVD was part of my Christmas "haul" and is an off-beat film concerned with the lives of lower class people living in abandoned U.S. military barracks in Reykjavik in the late 1950's. It stars Baltasar Kormákur as Baddi, a rebel without a cause who lived briefly in the U.S. and returned with a pompadour and an attitude. His shiftless hedonism, based upon American pop culture, clashed with these impoverished families, in a unique, short-lived environment.

The film veers close to stereotype at times (with the usual quirky Icelandic tropes), but the high level of acting and the basic humanity of the characters kept it from veering into parody. There are sub-themes of alcoholism and despair, but ultimately the film is not depressing. A worthwhile effort about a unique historical situation which manages to embrace some universal truths.

Readily available through Amazon.

UPDATE: A newly published analysis of Devil's Island at Senses of Cinema...

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Caroline said...

I am quite curious to watch this movie. I enjoyed Kormakur's 101 Reykjavik and The Sea a lot (second a bit less). The story of Devil's Island reminds me of some elements of Indridason's novel Silence of the Grave that I reviewed as well. Thanks for your comment about Laxness on my blog. I have the following book in German "I tuninu heima". Which one would that be in English, do you know? It is a memoir.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Kormakur's film White Night Wedding and his film of Indriðassonn's Jar City are both better films, in my opinion. He is also a noted stage director, his version of Ibsen's Peer Gynt (Petur Gautur) was the most intense theater experience I've ever had.

I tuninu heima was the first volume of Halldór's memoirs- the Laxness entry in Wikipedia has a full bibliography- it was published in 1975, seven years after Under the Glacier, his last novel. Search this blog for "Laxness in Translation" for my reviews of his books.

Anonymous Caroline said...

I didn't know he was a stage director, thanks for the info. And I will try to watch White Night Wedding. I read quite a few of your reviews... And the post Laxness in translation. Absolutely great for those who are not familiar with Laxness and probably even those who are. I need to read Laxness soon.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

You have an advantage in that Salka Valka and Gerpla should be readily available in German, they are hard to find in English.

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