A review by Graeme Bacque

Man, I don't know what to make of this one. I'm sitting here shaking all over... This was one of the most disturbing TV documentaries ever filmed.

Warrendale was a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children located on Toronto's outskirts. This movie was filmed by director Allan King in 1967... but tonight's showing on TVOntario was the first time this film has been shown in Canada, although it has a number of international awards to its credit. It is my understanding that the film found its way into the hands of the Government of Ontario... this contributed to the eventual closure of this institution. 

The film was shot in black-and white, without a musical score or interviews, in an as-it-happens documentary style. The sound was quite poor, making some conversations quite hard to follow. It begins with a member of Warrendale's staff waking up the residents one morning... no big deal, until one youngster refuses to get out of bed. A furious struggle ensues involving both male and female staff as they drag this young girl from her bed. 

This was to set the tone of the entire film. 

Its a struggle to write about this one... I must have gone through the same scenario a thousand times while I was growing up. What really makes it difficult was the many instances of genuine kindness and caring by staff. But the almost constant physical restraining of the young people in the 'care' of this place. and the constant verbal barrage carried out at the same time in the name of 'treatment', illustrated the fundamental disrespect for both the bodies and minds of these vulnerable youngsters. And frankly, the filming process may have contributed to this... it was frighteningly intimate. 

I really don't know what else I can add about this one. 

P.S. My family had seriously considered having me placed in this institution when I was about fourteen... this would have been in 1972 or so.