Credits
  • Director: Fred Schepisi
  • Producer: Fred Schepisi
  • Screenwriters: Fred Schepisi
  • Cast: Simon Burke, Charles McCallum, John Frawley, Arthur Dignam, Nick Tate, Peter Cox, Jonathan Hardy, Gerry Duggan, Thomas Keneally, Sheila Florance
  • Cinematography: Ian Baker
Product Details
  • Format: DVD
  • Catalog: ART65
  • UPC: 851597006766
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Australia
  • Language: English
  • Rating: NR
  • Year: 1976
  • Length: 107
  • Audio: Mono
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85 : 1
Gallery
This Australian film classic, the feature film debut of Fred Schepisi (Roxanne, A Cry in the Dark), is a semi-autobiographical drama of a 13-year-old boy’s struggles at a Catholic seminary in the 1950s. Tom (Simon Burke) is a student gripped with Catholic guilt as he struggles with his nascent sexual yearning and his divine calling. The seminary, run by a group of Brothers also torn between their vows and human desire, follows a harsh code of religious discipline. The boys are lorded over by the obsessively watchful eye of Brother Francine (Arthur Dignam), who prowls the halls looking for evidence of “the undisciplined mind.” A lyrical, mordantly funny memory film about the age-old struggles of mind, body and spirit. This re-release is being presented in a brand-new high definition transfer.
Reviews

“Schepisi made a quiet and thoughtful film; a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about the sexual repression of the students and priests of a strict catholic school….It’s more of a thought piece on how young boys are taught to ignore and suppress their urges in religious schools…It makes for a surprisingly gentle film dealing with such a serious subject. The film works incredibly well thanks to its authentic script and fine direction. Schepisi finds visual beauty throughout the convent with hazy, sun-drenched ponds in and around the gardens, as well as shadowy chiaroscuro hallways of the aged-school. The feeling of authenticity is high and is surely due to Schepisi’s own upbringing in such a place. The material is also acted by some of Australia/New Zealand’s finest character actors…I came out of The Devils Playground feeling that it was an unjustly forgotten film. It may not be a fully realised classic, but it’s an intriguing look into a world that’s beginning to disappear in developed countries.” – ReviewAvenue

“The director’s attempt was to give us a picture of life as it really is and even though the film was made in the 70’s. It is still very relevant today. The emphasis in sex is realistic—by refraining from sex…Schepisi directs it in grand style. It is interesting and thought-provoking and does shed light on what really goes on behind closed doors.Amos Lassen 

The Devil’s Playground is such a completely and thoroughly realized piece of cinema that almost every scene and sequence in it compels admiration.” – Boston Globe

“Everyone makes a terrific contribution as Schepisi peels away the surface to reveal a morass of personal demons.” – Urban Cinefile

 

About the Director

Golden Globe winning director Fred Schepisi is best known for Six Degrees of SeparationRoxannePlentyLast OrdersEmpire Falls and more recently The Eye of the Storm and Words and Pictures.

Fred Schepisi began his production career in the advertising world in Melbourne, Australia, where he served as head of the Film House for almost 20 years, directing both commercials and documentaries. His first feature-length film was the semi-autobiographical The Devil’s Playground (1976) which won 6 AFI awards including Best Film and established Fred’s reputation as a talented director and writer. The success of his second film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) took Fred to the U.S. where he directed Barbarosa (1981), Iceman (1983), Plenty (1985), and Roxanne (1987) before returning to Australia to co-write and direct Evil Angels (aka A Cry in the Dark, 1988). 

Fred’s most recent project was 2014’s Words & Pictures, with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. In 2011 he directed The Eye of the Storm, based on the novel by acclaimed author Patrick White about children finally understanding themselves through the context of family, and starring Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush. The film won the Jury Prize at Rome International Film Festival in November 2011.Fred also directed the screen adaptation of John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation (1993) starring Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland and Will Smith. His other film credits include The Russia House (1990), Mr. Baseball (1992), IQ(1994), Fierce Creatures (1996), Last Orders (2001) and It Runs in the Family (2002).

Prior to that, he directed the film adaptation of the best-selling novel by Richard Russo Empire Falls (2004). Featuring Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joanne Woodward, Robin Wright Penn and Helen Hunt, this film debuted in the U.S. on HBO, was nominated for a number of awards and and won a Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television.

Fred Schepisi was awarded the Order of Australia for his service to the Australian film industry as a director, producer and screenwriter. — https://fredschepisi.com

Credits
  • Director: Fred Schepisi
  • Producer: Fred Schepisi
  • Screenwriters: Fred Schepisi
  • Cast: Simon Burke, Charles McCallum, John Frawley, Arthur Dignam, Nick Tate, Peter Cox, Jonathan Hardy, Gerry Duggan, Thomas Keneally, Sheila Florance
  • Cinematography: Ian Baker
Product Details
  • Format: DVD
  • Catalog: ART65
  • UPC: 851597006766
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Australia
  • Language: English
  • Rating: NR
  • Year: 1976
  • Length: 107
  • Audio: Mono
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85 : 1
Gallery