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Hunger (1966)

Sult (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 12 August 1968 (USA)
In 1890, Pontus, the starving writer, wanders the streets of Christiania, in search of love and a chance to get his work published. All he meets is defeat and suffering while his sense of ... See full summary »


Henning Carlsen


Henning Carlsen, Knut Hamsun (novel) | 1 more credit »

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6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Per Oscarsson ... Pontus
Gunnel Lindblom ... Ylajali
Birgitte Federspiel ... Her sister
Knud Rex Knud Rex ... Landlord
Hans W. Petersen Hans W. Petersen ... Grocer
Henki Kolstad Henki Kolstad ... Editor
Roy Bjørnstad Roy Bjørnstad ... Konstantin
Sverre Hansen Sverre Hansen ... Painter
Pål Skjønberg Pål Skjønberg ... Constable
Else Heiberg Else Heiberg ... Landlady
Lise Fjeldstad Lise Fjeldstad ... Little girl
Carl Ottosen Carl Ottosen ... Sailor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bjarne Andersen Bjarne Andersen
Wilfred Breistrand Wilfred Breistrand
Osvald Helmuth Osvald Helmuth ... Pawnbroker


In 1890, Pontus, the starving writer, wanders the streets of Christiania, in search of love and a chance to get his work published. All he meets is defeat and suffering while his sense of reality is withering. One moment his is delighted and the next he curses everybody. All the time he manages to maintain human dignity and pride. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

money | writer | 1890s | daydream | hope | See All (171) »




Not Rated | See all certifications »



Denmark | Norway | Sweden


Danish | Swedish | Norwegian

Release Date:

12 August 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hunger See more »

Filming Locations:

Oslo, Norway

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Director Henning Carlsen was very fond of Hamsun's work and brought to the screen another one of his novels almost thirty years later ("Pan", 1995). See more »


Pontus: All is lost, ladies and gentlemen! All is lost!
See more »


Version of Hunger (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

Superb portrayal of arrogance... and loneliness
27 August 2010 | by MurderSlimPressSee all my reviews

Knut Hamsun's novel 'Hunger' is one of the better known books of the "outsider" canon. It's a great book, but one that must have been difficult to adapt into 'Sult'. It's written in first person, and has a dreamlike and rambling feel as the starving writer battles to write a masterpiece and raise enough money for a meal.

'Sult' starts worryingly. Carlsen's opening shots of the streets of Christiania (Oslo) in 1890 - with wacky carnival music for the theme tune - are reminiscent of a student film. The movie rapidly improves though... as soon as Per Oscarsson starts to act.

Oscarsson genuinely looks starved and near death, with hollow eyes and a teetering walk in the wind. Yet he also captures Pontus' showy arrogance and refusal to admit to anyone that he is starving. Oscarsson walks that line perfectly, and there's enough in his looks and movement to gradually draw sympathy. I found myself willing for Pontus to just ask for help... to the point I wanted to shake him... but he ploughs resolutely on, convinced he'll write something that will blow people's minds.

The film has also been criticised for portraying a stereotype of a starving artist. The counter argument is 'Sult' was one of the first literary portrayals of this stereotype. And even if Pontus isn't as much of a surprise as he would have been 40 - or 100 - years ago, the character is easily interesting enough to maintain attention. There's also plenty of black comedy in the scenes where Pontus visits the pawnbroker and offers ludicrous things for sale, while he still desperately tries to come across as moneyed and intellectual.

I think Carlsen did a superb job of capturing the spirit of 'Hunger', without following it slavishly enough to hurt the visual flow. The film doesn't use lengthy voice-overs, and prefers to let the acting and the situations show Pontus' complex mental state. For that reason, 'Sult' should play for both fans of 'Hunger' and for viewers interested in outsider folks fighting to exist. Sure, the cinematography lacks flair and the movie will be too slow for some, but it's a rewarding and thought provoking movie.

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