Celebrating the Australian Film Revival

The Devil’s Playground

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Fri, Jan 25

9:00pm

The Devil’s Playground
Fred Schepisi, 1976
Australia | Format: 35mm | 107 minutes

Director Fred Schepisi in person!

One of the leading figures of the Australian film renaissance, Fred Schepisi (Roxanne, A Cry in the Dark) made his feature directing debut with this striking, semi-autobiographical story of a 13-year-old boy coming of age in a Catholic seminary where the Brothers and pupils alike find themselves torn their between vows and human desire. Schepisi himself trained for the priesthood in the early 1950s, and his experiences inform those of 13-year-old Tom Allen (Simon Burke), a serious young man at the threshold of puberty, wracked with Catholic guilt over the strange feelings now coursing through his body. Whatever will the stern Brother Francine (Arthur Dignam), who prowls the halls looking for evidence of "the undisciplined mind," have to say? (Little does Tom know that, on his day off, Brother Francine goes peeking at women in the locker room of a public pool.) And so it goes in Schepisi’s lyrical, mordantly funny memory film about the age-old struggles of mind, body and spirit.

"This isn't an anti-Catholic movie. Far from it. Schepisi loves these tormented comedians. But he looks at them with humorous pagan eyes. His passionate feelings are expressed visually—in his thematic use of water imagery and in the vibrancy of his color, which eroticizes the environment. He's a great filmmaker, with his own softly rhythmed style. You feel he's got the whole thing right." —Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Kodak/Atlab Collection. 

Series: Celebrating the Australian Film Revival

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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