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Max von Sydow,
Sverre Anker Ousdal,
Knut Hamsun is Norway's most famous and admired author. Ever since he was young he has hated the English for the starvation they caused Norway during WWI. When the Germans occupy Norway on April 9, 1940, he welcomes them and the protection they can give from Great Britain. He supports the national socialist ideals, but opposes the way these ideals are turned into action - that Norwegians are jailed and executed. His wife Marie travels in Germany during the war as a sign of support from Knut and herself. Written by
To put it nice and simple, this movie is wonderful.
Von Sydow delivers a performance worth of every Award on Earth, Ghita Norby as Hamsun's wife is also splendid, the movie is written and directed with a nice but firm hand, even on the most unpleasant portions of Hamsun's life.
Knut Hamsun had a controversial and tormented relationship with everything and everyone in his life, as self-centered as he was. The stigma of the true genius indeed.
His sympathy for Nazism caused him a lot of troubles when the war ended and Norway was free from the Nazi occupation and from the collaborationist government.
Hamsun's previous opinions, albeit somewhat changed as the Germans were showing their true colours, still were enough to get him accused of treason. After the trial and an humiliating detention in a mental hospital, Hamsun got labeled as "insane", despite still managed to write a sharp and honest apologetic memoir, at 90 years of age.
The movie capture all of that, with a level of immersion that is truly engaging and astonishing. And side-by-side with Hamsun's public success and subsequent downfall, we follow the downfall of his personal life, to a point where public and private become one.
As said, acting is nothing short of brilliant
The only, marginal, problem is the language... Everyone speaks Norwegian, while Hamsun and his wife speak Swedish and Danish. It's a tad weird hearing arguably the best Norwegian author in history and his wife talking to each other in a different language (neither of them being their actual one).
But in all honesty, if the lack of language consistency was the price to pay to get such a good performance, I would gladly have Hamsun and Marie speaking French...
FINAL VERDICT: Hamsun is graceful and brutal at the same time. A true gem.
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