I didn't read the book, but saw Hennig Carlsen's movie, of 1966.
So much has been said and written about K. Hamsun (Nazi collaborator, racist, det I didn't read the book, but saw Hennig Carlsen's movie, of 1966.
So much has been said and written about K. Hamsun (Nazi collaborator, racist, detester of the English, misogynist, conservative…Hitler’s admirer, dissenter…; a really mad man?), however, for this specific review, I would focus on the positive side of the writer: his psychological insights.
“I fancy I can read in the souls of those about me…I could see far into others´ souls, though I’m not great or clever head”.
Lieutenant Glahn, in “Pan”.
"Hunger" is truly a great narrative about the soul/troubled-life of a writer in a dire situation: hunger. A “too-much honest” young man, unable to compromise while waiting for a post adequate to his writing talent.
By 1890 we find a poor writer [K.P.] wandering through the streets of Christiana. He’s on a hunger state,though he fakes all the time he’s OK. He’s got no job…despite his talent.
"I stood up and searched through a bundle in the corner by the bed for a bite for breakfast, but finding nothing, went back to the window". (from the book)
He stares at sausages hanging on the grocery store; takes some crumbs at “home”; chews some paper; watches his ruined shoes "talking" to each other; at the butcher's he gets a bone for "his dog", in fact, for himself to bite. It borders the comic just watching him…"malgré" the tragic situation he’s in.
KP is waiting for a post in an editorial house; but he’s got to wait for some days,until he gets his article read and approved. In the meantime, he’s got expelled from his rented room; he’s got to find a new one and there’s no money coming in.
"Well then, you must go to the guard-house and report yourself as homeless!" said he.
Homeless? I hadn't thought of that. Yes, by Jove, that was a capital idea; and I thanked the constable on the spot for the suggestion. Could I simply go in and say I was homeless?" (from the book)
So he plays jokes with the police and the people around him. He fantasizes on Ylayali. He tries to sell his coat’s buttons. His jacket having been already sold,to hand the money to a street vendor….none being left for himself.
In the park he chases after two ladies, mother and daughter, telling them “you dropped the book…you dropped the book!”; but no one was carrying a book. The daughter finds it funny and gets an interest on KP. While her mother is absent she meets with KP and tells him: despite him being shy (mad?) …”I like you all the same!”.
She liked the name he calls her: Ylayali.
He’s got to find a new place for living and writing; but his psychological/physical state is close to despair: “It’s all finished!! He faints….he sees “things”: like Y promenading with a man…; all due to hunger.
"Out in the fjord I dragged myself up once, wet with fever and exhaustion, and gazed landwards, and bade farewell for the present to the town--to Christiania, where the windows gleamed so brightly in all the homes". (from the book)
KP won’t stay in Christiana; he embarks on a ship whose destiny is not revealed.
This is a great description of "madness"; maybe a borderline case,…that frontier between normalcy and madness, hard to trace with precision. In that sense, Hamsun is psychologically sane: a master descriptor,… a soul reader.
This is a powerful and compelling story; so is the movie of C. Dreyer (Day of Wrath;1943) based on it. It’s a real story that happened in Norway, in tThis is a powerful and compelling story; so is the movie of C. Dreyer (Day of Wrath;1943) based on it. It’s a real story that happened in Norway, in the 16th century. You don't have to know about the witch hunt in 16th century England, or read the book of King James on "demonology". This book will suffice.
Dreyer’s black-and-white movie starts with a middle aged woman called Herlof, who’s been persecuted for being a witch; she’s on the run; she finds shelter at Anne’s place.
But she’s not the main character of the movie. The core characters are Absalom, wife Anne and Absalom’s son: Martin.
Absalom is old; Anne is too young. Her mother had been judged by Absalom on witchcraft accusation,yet absolved.
Anne is not happy with her marriage.
Then arrives Martin,who falls in love with Anne. She gets really happy now, though Martin will soon regret his move, evidently fearing his father’s figure.
Herlof has been caught, judged and burnt at the stake. Judge Absalom later on will tell that Herlof confessed she had the power of “invocation of the living and the dead”. So has Anne, it seems; she casts a sort of spell on Martin.
There’s another powerful character: the mother of Absalom who doesn’t like Anne at all; she hates her; she’s suspicious about Anne’s relation with Martin.
Meanwhile Absalom dies after being told by Anne that she wished him dead: “you didn’t give me a child….I wish you were dead!"
At the funeral ceremony Martin makes a speech; he asks for forgiveness and says nobody is to blame for his father’s death. But grandmother says “wait!"!....she claims a “life for a life”; she wants the truth; she’s quite peremptory: Anne killed Absalom.
Before the Church members Anne confesses close to Absalom’s body: “you have your revenge…I killed you”.
So grandmother was right when she was telling unbelieving Absalom: Anne’s eyes are like her mother’s; her eyes burned the same way: the day may come when you may have to choose between Anne and God.
Especially beautiful are the perceptions of the world as seen by Martin and Anne. The same object may have different views;that's very well exploited in Dreyer's movie.
For example when going inside the boat,happiness permeates Anne,fully; yet Martin wonders:"how long will it last?".
And then there's this beautiful magestic tree by the river...Anne says:"it is reflecting:we can never separate",...while doubting Martin replies:"it grieves us...if we could die here,both"(due to our sin).
Still on Dreyer's movie,the (choral) music (the sound treatment, in general) is a pearl upon the text. ...more