thoughts on nature therapy after watching King of Devil Island
One of the films I saw today at the Edinburgh International Film Festival was King of Devil's Island, which is based on true incidents that happened early in the 20th Century at the Bastoy School for Delinquent Boys in Norway. The school was incredibly strict - boys weren't allowed personal possessions (though one bizzarely had a pet rabbit, which he carried around with him all the time!) and were beaten into submission. Finally they rebelled and took revenge on the cruel masters.
The school is situated on the shores of a stunningly beautiful (though desolate) Norwegian fjord. The boys are forced outside in all weathers to do backbreaking work logging trees, carrying stones and intensively harvesting crops. It struck me that all the time, nature was seen as something to be overcome, something that could provide a harsh punishment for the crimes the boys had committed. Yet how much more effective the school would have been if it had used the natural wealth of the surroundings for education, as part of an overall more enlightened and pupil centred regime? The boys could have learnt about the nature of the forests, could have learnt about agriculture through doing less intensive, more meaningful work in the fields. And I would guess that they would have had a much better chance of returning to society as well balanced individuals if they had been able to experience nature that way instead of being forced to see it as an enemy. (Obviously, times change and attitudes in the early 20th century were generally not conducive to nature as therapy or pupil centred philosophies!).
I saw the press screening of this film at Edinburgh International Film Festival. Public screenings are:12.45, 19 June and 20.15, 25 June, both screenings are in Cameo 1. You can book tickets for King of Devil's Island on the Edinburgh International Film Festival website here.