Based on the novel written by Mark Schreiber in 1981 when he was 20, PRINCES IN EXILE is a poignant, uplifting story about the power of the human spirit. Director Giles Walker has made a film about cancer that does not become tawdry but is crafted with sensitivity and insight.
A group of teenagers stricken with cancer go for their summer vacation to Camp Hawkins, a wooded Canadian retreat. Ryan Rafferty (Zachary Ansley), an intense, intelligent 17-year-old, arrives with an antagonistic attitude. He feels his fight against cancer is useless and struggle futile, since an
early death is his destiny. His only hope is to publish his journal and lose his virginity before he dies. Another youngster, Robert (Nicholas Shields), is the daredevil of the group. Nicknamed "Stuntman," he confronts danger at every turn, defying death on his own terms. Their bald heads covered
by caps, the boys are natural in the rustic camp setting. Invigorated by the beauty of their surroundings, they pursue their summer activities with all the humor and energy of their years.
Ryan meets Holly (Stacie Mistysyn) and they fall in love. As his resentment decreases, he slowly begins to relate to his fellow campers and cautiously develops friendships. He realizes that having cancer no longer makes him special; he's surrounded by so many other young people who have the same
disease. As one of the boys declares, it's a victory to wake each morning and be alive; they are jousting with death, young princes in exile waiting to enter the castle of life. They are on the outside because thwarted by the disease and, inevitably, some fall by the wayside, but the others learn
to take advantage of each day as it comes, and go forth with renewed hope for their future.
Unsentimental and honest, PRINCES IN EXILE is a tribute to the victims of cancer who struggle to conquer the disease, and it is a coming-of-age story of young people whose years may be limited but who learn the full value of their lives through their interpersonal relationships, their dreams and
their goals. It avoids the cliches common to most films of this genre and brings a positive, compellingly human approach to the problem. Despite their illness the ensemble of young actors are top-notch, bringing a ring of truth to their performances.
The beauty and richness of life is emphasized by the film's setting, beautifully captured by the cinematography of Savas Kalogeras. The musical score of Normand Corbeil adds just the right note. Director Giles Walker (THE MASCULINE MYSTIQUE, 90 DAYS) has taken on the challenge of a difficult
topic and given it strength and purpose.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG
- Review: Based on the novel written by Mark Schreiber in 1981 when he was 20, PRINCES IN EXILE is a poignant, uplifting story about the power of the human spirit. Director Giles Walker has made a film about cancer that does not become tawdry but is crafted with sen… (more)