Combustible Celluloid
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With: Per Oscarsson, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitte Federspiel, Knud Rex, Hans W. Petersen, Henki Kolstad, Roy Bj�rnstad, Sverre Hansen, P�l Skj�nberg, Else Heiberg, Lise Fjeldstad, Carl Ottosen
Written by: Henning Carlsen, Peter Seeberg, based on the novel by Knut Hamsun
Directed by: Henning Carlsen
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian with English subtitles
Running Time: 112
Date: 05/11/1966

Hunger (1966)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on the novel by Knut Hamsun, this Danish film tells the story of a proud, struggling writer who takes great pains to hide the fact that he's broke and newly homeless. On his last night in his apartment, he feverishly writes his masterpiece and eagerly awaits its publication. While wandering in a park, he follows a woman (Gunnel Lindblom), who then becomes fascinated by him and invites him up to her flat. (This last bit is difficult to buy.) Director Henning Carlsen shoots in rich black and white and every wrinkle and crevice is highlighted in deep shadow. He uses the Oslo, Norway locations with a striking realism, shooting in and around the buildings and streets to give them three dimensions. Best of all is the carefully layered lead performance by Per Oscarsson as the writer; he's slightly mad and infuriatingly stubborn, but his enthusiasm and decorum make him heartbreakingly sympathetic. (Whenever a cop notices him, he immediately turns and faces him, casually asking for the time.) I usually can't stand movies about starvation, but this one has a special poetry. In 2001, director Maria Giese updated the novel to modern-day Los Angeles -- turning the hero into a screenwriter -- with equally compelling results.

DVD Details: New Yorker Video has released this relatively unknown film in an impressive, quality DVD (supervised by the director). One of the film's greatest fans, author Paul Auster, provides an interesting extra in which he interviews Hamsun's granddaughter. There is also an interview with the director, a filmography and stills.

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