Directed by: Henning Carlsen
Starring: Per Oscarsson (Writer), Gunnel Lindblom (Ylajali), Birgitte Federspiel (Ylajali’s sister)
Country: Denmark, Scandinavian Cinema, European Cinema
Language: Danish, Swedish, Norwegian (English Subtitles)
Genres: Misery-Depressing, Based on a True Story
Plot – Spoilers:
A young writer is hungry, broke and without a place to sleep having been kicked out of his boarding. He is so poor that he returns to a pawnbroker to retrieve a pencil stub he’d forgotten in the coat he just sold. But despite his abject poverty, misery and starvation-induced hallucinations/delusions, he retains an immense pride in his goodness and philanthropy. He has elegant handwriting and a clear taste for the fine, but in his current situation, his delusions of nobility and an elevated class make him come across a fool. Every time he’s able to scrap together a few coins that buy him a meal, he finds an excuse to give them away (to the point of frustration for the viewer). Even if you’ve been in a phase like his and can empathize with his opinions, it is hard to sympathize with him, unless you’re right now in his phase. In which case of course, you probably would not be in a position to be watching him.
Hunger is based on the novel Sult by Nobel-winner Knut Hamsun who brought his own experiences as a struggling writer into his book. For fans of Dostoevsky, this is possibly as great a cinematic dramatization of a Dostoevsky work you can expect, with Per Oscarsson putting on a show of pure mastery.