Friday, July 2, 2010

Devil's Playground (2002)

Lucy Walker


The Devil's Playground is a fascinating and moving documentary about a little-known aspect of Amish life. Amish are not permitted to join the church until their late teens, and have to do so of their own volition. The film explores rumspringa, wherein young Amish are given the opportunity to explore the "English" way of life. Filmmaker Lucy Walker tracked a few of these young people over the course of their experience. The film shows how difficult it is for them to break away from the church. Many of them "act out," exploring not just Nintendo and rock music, but alcohol, drugs, and sex. But almost all of them return to the church, and this fairly balanced documentary makes it clear that despite the church's stance, there is tremendous pressure, both economic and emotional, on these kids to return to the fold. The film focuses on a young man, Faron, who develops a serious drug problem and decides not to get baptized, and a young woman, Velda, who was baptized, and then later, suffering from acute depression, made the difficult decision to leave the church. Walker successfully captures the compelling details of this formerly closed and forbidding world, and the essentially ordinary kids who inhabit it.


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1 comment:

  1. Sounds very interesting. There's a documentary of a similar theme on the channel 4 uk site, 4od. This sounds a bit more hard hitting though.


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