Hamsun, DVD (1997)

This is director Jan Troell's biography of the Norwegian Nobel Prize-winning author, Knut Hamsun (Max von Sydow). Hamsun was a brilliant author,Hamsun (DVD) Max von Sydow but very controversial due to his connections with the Nazi regime in Norway during World War II. The movie is as much about Norway's experiences with Hitler as it is about Hamsun's personal life.

Knut Hamsun, a staunchly anti-British nationalist, was his country's most beloved writer, best known for his modernist books Hunger (1890) and Growth of the Soil (1917), which gave Norway's literature worldwide stature. But with the shadow of Nazism quickly darkening Europe, Knut Hamsun and his wife Marie embrace Hitler - who sees Hamsun's support as the surest way to win over the Norwegian people.

Opening with a scene that establishes Hamsun's tormented relationship with his wife, Marie (Ghita Nørby), the film examines the couple's gradual conversion to Nazism, as Germany occupies Norway during World War II. Persuaded by a Nazi ambassador sent to Oslo, Vidkun Quisling (Sverre Anker), both Marie and Knut become spokespeople for the Nazi Party, justifying their politics by the German promise of a strong, independent post-war Norway. As the Hamsuns discover the hushed horrors around them, their own personal relationship falls away, forcing them to reflect on their lives, their dysfunctional children, and their mistakes.

Known as a traitor in Norway, Knut Hamsun, in this film, is portrayed as a true Norwegian patriot, proving, through Hamsun's own words, that his misdirected desire to aid Hitler had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. A sad beauty permeates Hamsun. Just as the author sentences himself, the viewer musters up enough sympathy for Hamsun to learn that, indeed, the personal is political.

The movie is an epic story of love and treason, and Max Von Sydow gives a career-crowning performance as Knut Hamsun. Max Von Sydow brilliantly captures the loneliness and confusion of the last seventeen years of Hamsun's life, as he faces the consequences of his outspoken support of Nazi politics in Norway.

After the war, instead of being jailed for treason, Hamsun is ordered to undergo months of intense psychiatric evaluations and a court trial that almost ends both his relationship with Marie and his life.

The subject matter of this movie is controversial but the film gracefully confronts the issue of the Hamsuns' Nazism and gives humanity to it. Max Von Sydow's performance is wonderful. While the story concerns Nazism and literature, its main focus is the estrangement and reconciliation of two very powerful personalities. And as a somewhat tragic love story, it is impeccable. Highly recommended!

  • Actors: Max von Sydow, Ghita Nørby, Anette Hoff, Gard B. Eidsvold, Eindride Eidsvold
  • Directors: Jan Troell
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Danish (Unknown), Swedish (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: May 23, 2006
  • Run Time: 154 minutes

Hunger, DVD(1968)

This is a well directed and unforgettable film version of Knut Hamsun's great novel Hunger. Per Oscarsson's portrait of despair and hallucinatory exaltation Hunger - DVD, Kut Hamsungoes far beyond the boundaries of verisimilitude; it is known that he actually lived the role before shooting began, and what one beholds is the gaunt face of one artist dramatizing the plight of all artists who cry out for recognition, with only the symbol of their work to nourish their bodies and unfaltering spirit: it is one of the great film performances of all time. It won the Best Actor award at Cannes.

The story is told with revolutionary, disruptive movements from reality to myth as a young, talented writer wanders through an unidentified Scandinavian city during an autumn day in the late 1890s, a way of making the movies which to my mind brings it close to the book. Unable to sell any of his writings, he is reduced to a physical and moral state of abject suffering and near-madness. Still, he somehow retains his sense of humor, intelligence, and a smattering of self-righteous dignity. Every contact with humanity emphasizes the writer's solitude and his gradual acceptance of life as a dream voyage.

The movie takes place in 1890's Christiania (Oslo), where Pontus (Per Oscarsson) perseveres homelessness and starvation to write articles for a local magazine editor. Filmed in grainy black and white, Hunger is as thoughtfully subtle as an Ingmar Bergman film. Scenes showing Pontus considering how to steal bones from dogs, or pleading with his boots to stay on his feet, capture his self-inflicted tragedy, while other scenes depicting citizens refusing to help Pontus earn money elicit sympathy for his plight.

Watching this film alongside Hamsun, the wonderful biography of the author, shows similarities between the author and his most famous character, Pontus, not due to Knut Hamsun’s poverty or sketchy mental facility, but rather his undying commitment to skepticism and literature.

  • Actors: Per Oscarsson, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitte Federspiel, Knud Rex, Hans W. Petersen
  • Directors: Henning Carlsen
  • Writers: Henning Carlsen, Knut Hamsun, Peter Seeberg
  • Producers: Bertil Ohlsson, Göran Lindgren
  • Format: Black & White, DVD, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
  • Run Time: 112 minutes

Kristin Lavransdatter (DVD)

Kristen Lavransdatter, based on a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset, is an epic tale of medieval life in Norway during the 14th century. Kristin Lavransdatter (DVD)Liv Ullmann has done a masterful job in writing a manuscript for the movie and directed it.

Lavrans (Sverre Anker Ousdal) has two daughters. One is crippled as a small child, but Kristin (Elisabeth Matheson) grows tall and proud. She's promised to wed a likely neighbor's son, Simon Darre (Jorgen Langhelle) but feels closer to a childhood friend who leaves to join the priesthood. Unsure of Simon, Kristin elects to go to a nunnery for a year, where she meets Ingbjorg (Gisken Armand), another student terrified that she must soon marry a toothless old man.

On a trip to town, she meets Erlend (Bjørn Skagestad), who is immediately smitten with her. And Kristen falls madly in love with him as well. She finds out that he already has a mistress of ten years and two children, but it makes no difference. She's willing to defy her bridegroom and her father for the love of this man. Against all social and religious forces, they struggle to make their love possible.

Directed by Liv Ullmann (director of Private Confessions, star of Ingmar Bergman's Persona and Cries and Whispers), the movie benefits from its richly realized depiction of medieval life. Despite her limited status in this world, Kristin is no blushing maiden; when she repels an attempted rape by bashing her attacker's head with a stone, her face has the fury of a warrior queen, and her passion for Erlend is all-consuming. It is a very moving film. Beautifully filmed by the great cinematographer Sven Nykvist (whose credits range from Autumn Sonata to Sleepless in Seattle). Kristin Lavransdatter is as visually entrancing as Bergman's finest.

  • Actors: Per Kvaernes, Elisabeth Matheson, Anne Kokkinn, Bjørn Jenseg, Erland Josephson
  • Directors: Liv Ullmann
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Norwegian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: April 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 187 minutes

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Most recent Scandinavian movies on DVD reviewed:

King of Devil's Island - Stellan Skarsgård

A Somewhat Gentle Man - Stellan Skarsgård at his very best

The Killing - an excellent Danish crime fiction TV series

Arn: Templar Knight - based on the Crusades trilogy by Jan Guillou

Jar City, excellent Icelandic crime movie based on a book by Arnaldur Indridason

Troubled Water - an extraordinary Norwegian movie

Pusher Trilogy. Hard, violent Danish movies about gangsters.

As it is in Heaven. Charming Swedish movie, romantic, funny, warm.

Max Manus - about a hero in the Norwegian resistance during WWII

Flame and Citron - about the Danish resistance during WWII

Antichrist and other movies by Danish Lars von Trier

The Van Veeteren collection (Hakan Nesser)

Kurt Wallander series (Henning Mankell)

Irene Huss movies (Boxed set) Helene Tursten

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