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From Brothels to Spelling Bees: Five Documentary Films with Unique Vision 
 
by Mieko Lindeman August 05, 2005

Devil’s Playground

Originally aired by PBS, this documentary of Amish life is an objective look at the interesting rumspringa period in Amish culture. Because the Amish do not believe in baptism of children (having stemmed off the Anabaptists in Europe hundreds of years ago) at age 17 they are released from the routine of their community and allowed to explore the “English world” (meaning the non-Amish one) to let them independently choose the Amish life over the outside world (a decision considered to be a life-long, fully binding one).

Their perception of the English world and freedom seems laughable, as Amish teens hold Amish-only parties where they tap kegs and listen to rock music, many girls still wearing their Amish bonnets. As they engage in mainly hedonistic behavior and enjoy the transportation of cars, it is easy on the surface level to dismiss them as repressed teens. However the interviews with the several teens the film focuses on is touching in the earnest and well-intentioned thoughts of the young men and women at a very grave point in their lives.

The mysterious world of the Amish is a superb point of interest to set this familiar look at adolescence in, though the delivery and film-making is a bit lackluster and disappointing for such a promising topic. Nevertheless it is an enlightening look at free will, family, luxury, and coming of age that will have you wondering to what extent your own life has been dictated by independent choices or family traditions.

77 min.

Also try…City of God

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