Sometimes movies sit in my Netflix queue for a long time. Netflix suggests that I will really, really like them – but I’m not convinced. Finally, I give it a try and almost without fail, Netflix’s recommendation is right on – this is the case with the film Evil.
What sort of film would be titled Evil? No, it is not a horror film. Rather it is about a boarding school in Stjärnsberg (Sweden) and especially the tribulations of Erik Ponti, a young man from an abusive background, who refuses to bend to the hierarchical and arbitrary rules of the student body (which are overlooked by the teaching staff).
The film is loosely based on one of Sweden’s most popular novels (which is semi-autobiographical) of the same name by Jan Guillou and was released in 2003. It is in Swedish and has English subtitles. You can learn more about the film on the IMDb and Wikipedia pages.
Why did this film appeal to me? Because of the ethical questions it raises. Namely,
- Why does an individual become “pure evil?”
- Is it possible for such an individual to become good?
- What would be the catalyst for such a change?
- What is the appropriate manner in which to address injustice?
- What should one do when standing up for justice results in suffering and loss for friends or family who have not asked to be part of your campaign for justice?
- Are there some individuals who are so firmly fixed in their “pure evil” ways that they must be destroyed?
- How should we handle unethical behavior by our heroes/leaders?
- At what point does one become an active participant in “evil” simply by inaction?
The film is officially not rated. If the MPAA had reviewed the film, they would have assigned it an R rating. The film contains brief episodes of profane/crude language, an incident of sensuality, an ongoing theme of sadistic violence, and a scene with non-sexual, almost male nudity.
Wait a moment…How can one have “almost” male nudity? Excellent question. All I can say is that if I did not warn you about it, you would say “There is a naked man in that film!” But now that I have told you, you will tell me, “There is no naked man in that film!” To which the answer to both statements is – yes.
For mature audiences I’d suggest this is a great film with an interesting story line which provides ample opportunity for discussion.