Director: Fred Schepisi
Selected for The Director's Fortnight at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, The Devil's Playground, set in a college-seminary, reveals the effects of rigid institutional control on people of a variety of ages, pubescent boys and their tutors, the Brothers of the Order.
The story develops mainly around 13-year-old Tom Allen who is desperately trying to realise what he believes to be his vocation, and yet is deeply disturbed by pressures he can neither understand nor control.
On the surface, the institution seems in its tranquil beauty, an ideal place for learning, contem¬plation, and purposeful activity of mind and body according to the tenets of the Order. Below the surface, however, it is a hotbed in which discipline backfires.
The religious setting is symbolic, for institutional environments exist at all levels of society and groups of people, irrespective of beliefs. And, where rigid control of human lives is attempted in the name of good intention, they stilt create situations of which we exclaim, 'My God! How could it happen?'