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"Hærværk" by Tom Kristensen has always been a favorite book of mine, but I
have always avoided this film because I thought it would be an anti-climax
to watch. The book is about a literary critic who discovers the dark and
destructive sides of himself - and drinks himself senseless in a vain
attempt to reach the bottom of his soul and all social criteria. This
doesn't seem to be a very good foundation for a movie. Furthermore it is
made in 1977, and the seventies is not a golden era of danish films to say
After seeing it I must admit I thought it was pretty good. This mainly
because of the actors Ole Ernst and Poul Bundgaard, who delivers some fine
performances - Poul Bundgaard, as "Den evige Kjær" - especially.
It also recreates the atmospheres of Copenhagen in the thirties -
unemployment, jazz and constant rumours of revolution.
I don't think anyone who has not read the book will enjoy this much.
It's slow, without much of a pay-off. If you have read the book, you
might appreciate the take on the characters, the setting and the moods
Set in Copenhagen in the 1920s, the movie feels more dystopian than you would expect. Close-ups on faces, old tunes and disoriented drunken dialog makes the whole movie feel quite surreal at times. You follow the literature critic Ole Jastrau, as he slowly turns to alcoholism. The movie goes back and forth between his drunk moments and his sober ones, the latter being less frequent as the movie goes on. Despite this, the movie does shy away from most of the drunk antics, and they are mostly implied. You see him in a party, the atmosphere escalating - and then you see him the next day, all cleaned up. This works well, and helps illustrate how he is spiraling out of his "good" life.
There is a potential in the book, this man's journey to tear apart his life, but this potential is not done justice by the movie.
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