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"The most appalling and effecting film I have seen...If "Warrendale' is a film we can't bear to be with, who is at fault?"
Warrendale was both an experiment and a frontier in pioneering the now common practise of treating children in a family-like setting where they could feel safe to express their feelings. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who commissioned the film in 1966, refused to air it. Although it was released theatrically to huge international acclaim, it was banned from television for thirty years until TVOntario screened it in early 1997. It attracted a deeply appreciative audience of record size.
"I count the sight of the desperate, screaming child, held so firmly but so peaceable by the grown-up, to be one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The utter acceptingness of the arms that do the holding, this tangible assurance that in the throes of self-abandon the child is not abandoned, moved me as I have seldom been moved in the cinema. I felt very deeply that I was witnessing the act of love."
As well as being a staple in film schools, Warrendale is enormously valuable to such professionals as social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and anyone interested in human behaviour.
"The negative reactions this film has stirred up in some quarters demonstrated the adult world's dread of the open expression of childhood distress and the anguish that lies behind delinquency and emotional illness. It goes some way towards explaining why so many of our approved schools and schools for maladjusted children frame themselves around a system of control and suppression which hides from the adult, and from the child himself, the shattering impact of inward confusion and panic and feelings in the raw. 'Warrendale' does not spare the adult. It shows what it feels like to hate and be hated."
"...as an insight into the dark reaches of fear and resentment in the human spirit the film is profound. I cannot imagine anyone coming away from this work unimpressed and unenlightened"
"Mr. King presents the children not as deranged case-histories, but as people of sensitivity, personality and often a remarkable degree of charm. They are recognisable, and they show us graphically that the naughty child is often a very worried and frightened child. The most unexpected quality of this document on emotional disturbance however is the manner in which the children's catharsis communicates itself. The film reveals to us, more in the way of art than of a text-book, something of ourselves."
"It is harrowing and horrifying - but compulsive. Blending into the community house like a fly on the wall, King and his cameraman capture startling emotional crises in the lives of the children."
"They (the children) are not deranged, or horrifying to watch. Their attacks of grief, fear, rage and clamour for some impossible immortal intimacy seem only more naked and more terrible in degree than the ones that everyone knows...Allan King's perception of their hellish journeys is like the psychiatric workers' way of dealing with them: the film, which is without commentary, burns into their spirits and makes no judgements. It is a wonderful movie, extending a charity to aberration and distress like no other of its sort that I have ever seen."
New York's Critics Best Foreign Film, 1967
British Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, 1967
For a longer overview of the film, see