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Hunger


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Hunger + Hamsun + Everlasting Moments (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • 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, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Project X
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GDH9KA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,788 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hunger" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 34 minute interview with director Henning Carlsen
  • 26 minute filmed conversation between author Paul Auster and Regine Hamsun, granddaughter of Knut Hamsun
  • Henning Carlsen filmography
  • Extensive stills gallery

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Just as Knut Hamsun's novel, Hunger, considers what it means to starve for one's work, Danish director Henning Carlsen's film adaptation of Hunger portrays the story’s protagonist as an inscrutable man whose eccentric dedication to literature costs him his health. Hunger, the first Scandinavian co-production to represent Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in its making, 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. Pontus's washed-out hallucinations recall The Seventh Seal, while his preoccupation with the lovely Ylajali (Gunnel Lindblom), whose name he invents because of the way the name rolls off his tongue, recalls the romanticism of Wild Strawberries. 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, a 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. Hunger, however, quiets those personality traits, making Pontus as sensitive as he is uncompromising. --Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
"Hunger" is one of the best movies I've ever seen.
vs
It really makes you feel this characters hunger not only for food, but for freedom of the human spirit and mind.
F. I. Lowe Perry
A gorgeous piece of art and redeemable film whose magnetic images are still important today.
Oslo Jargo/Bartok Kinski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This unforgettable film version of Knut Hamsun's great novel 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. Unable to sell any of his writings, he is reduced to a physical and moral state of abject suffering and near-madness [yet] 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. Per Oscarsson's portrait of despair and hallucinatory exaltation goes 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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kirk Alex on June 2, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Talented Writer/Director Henning Carlsen does excellent work here, as does actor Per Oscarsson in lead
role.
Fine adaption of what may be my favorite novel of all time, Knut Hamsun's HUNGER.
Waited decades to see this. Finally, when I noticed that the DVD was available on amazon.com, I
got my copy.

Great novels don't always make great films; it's true--but this is that rarest of times when the film is actually as good (or, let's say...comes quite close.) That's high praise from me, because my belief has always been that no matter how terrific a filmed version of a fine novel is, it can never be as good as the book.

If you love Hamsun's beautifully written novel, you'll enjoy this remarkable film.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Oslo Jargo/Bartok Kinski on December 15, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This, difficult to find film, merits close examination under the eyes of any reader of modernist literature. Written by Knut Hamsun and based entirely on his experiences of suffering, moral degradation, starvation and humiliation at the hands of the bourgeoisie of Oslo (Kristiana) whose petty values were mired in mockery, snobbish attitudes and haughtiness, truly explores the conscious soul of a writer. The director uses subtle techniques to introduce us to the Oslo of Hamsun's time, replete with arrogant shop owners, horse carriages and stupid followers of the Christian religion. For most of the film, the lead actor, played wonderfully by Per Oscarsson, who is still alive and making films at the age of 77, suffers starvation and yet he is truly determined to live his miserable existence. A gorgeous piece of art and redeemable film whose magnetic images are still important today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lexo1941 on February 12, 2008
Format: DVD
Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel 'Hunger' is not, on the face of it, a promising candidate to be made into a masterpiece of world cinema film. For a start, it's a really good book, and books this good tend to become bad movies. The narrator, a down-at-heel intellectual and would-be genius, is scuffling around Christiania (now known as Oslo) in search of a lot of things, but mostly greatness, food, money and company, in descending order of importance. However, his pride is so enormous that he can't bear to accept charity from anyone, and so his acute physical hunger soon becomes his main sensation. It's the kind of novel that sensitive literary young men with no money always reckon they have in them somewhere, but which when written usually turns out to be a self-indulgent mess. Hamsun, practically alone among the species, got it right. The book is written with an extraordinary mixture of deep sympathy for its infuriating narrator, but also ironic objectivity about his capacity to be his own worst enemy.

So how do you make a movie out of a story that just follows this weird, obsessive, self-absorbed egotist around a nineteenth century city? One thing you do at the start is cast Per Oscarsson. The Norwegian actor gives the performance of a lifetime as the film's main character, who unlike in the novel is given a name - Pontus. Oscarsson, painfully thin, unshaven, bespectacled, dressed in a tight, shabby suit and perpetually carrying around a bundle of his unpublished manuscripts, is riveting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By vs on May 2, 2010
Format: DVD
This 1966 film is based on Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel with the same title; the director, Henning Carlsen, is still making movies in 2010. I haven't known his name before I watched "Hunger", now I'm planning to see his other movies, because this film is amazingly good. It's one of those very rare exceptions when the movie is comparable in quality to the book it's based upon, even though Hamsun's novel deservedly belongs to classics.

Per Oscarsson's and Gunnel Lindblom's amazing performance as two main characters in this film deserves highest recognition too, even though some credit in this case also due to the director, who brought them together in the film, as well as the many other excellent actors, be it in the secondary roles or extras.

Each and every scene in this film can be put on a poster - so beautiful it is graphically. Carlsen has perfect vision, aesthetically impeccable. His taste never fails him. It's very interesting to see, in particular, how the sexual encounter between two main characters is shown. One cannot ignore the fact that very modest scenes are much more human and natural and erotic here than whatever is produced in the Hollywood nowadays.

Hamsun was one of the first existentialist writers. The flim, created by Carlsen, is bigger than any particular genre of style or philosophical paradigm. It's about life itself, in all its complexity, and ugliness, and beauty. "Hunger" is one of the best movies I've ever seen.
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