HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

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HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:16 am

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Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:20 pm

HUNGER (Denmark-Nor-Swe / 1966)



Based on Norwegian Nobel Prize-winning scribe Knut Hamsuns landmark semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Hunger (Sult) is an engaging and timeless effort about a starving artist who refuses to compromise his prideful dignity. Directed by Danish filmmaker Henning Carlsen, this Scandinavian co-production -- the very first between Denmark, Norway and Sweden -- is set in 1890 Kristiania (now Oslo), where we find our desolate protagonist, Pontus (Swedish actor Per Oscarsson), practically living in the streets. Emaciated to the point of near-incapacitation, Pontus is a writer, perhaps a great one, without a kroner to his name, but he refuses to disclose his dire predicament to a soul, and shuns those who gather so anyway and attempt to help. Carlsen strives to honor the fierce subjectivity of Hamsuns first-person novel, reportedly a 200 page interior monologue, with a uniform visual approach (Pontus vision becomes ours). While wandering the overcast streets, Pontus is smitten by a young bourgeois woman (noted Swedish actress Gunnel Lindblom) who also shows some interest in him. But even in his current state (and quite possibly due to its effects on his withering mental health), hes unable to fully grasp the social differences which exist between them, and thus ends up behaving irrationally. The films most moving moments are perhaps the rare occasions when Pontus adamant demeanor gives way to frustration -- he breaks down in a lonesome alley after struggling to devour a discarded bone. Primarily shot on-location in Old Oslo, Hunger appropriately features stark b&w cinematography (Henning Kristiansen) and an ominously repetitive score (late Krzysztof Komeda), both underlining the plight of its subject. But it's Oscarssons intense, Cannes award-winning performance which truly allows the film to reach a certain depth and definition.

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*HUNGER premiered at Cannes '66 (in-competition). DVD info to follow.
arsaib4
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:54 pm

Well, as this post from Last Film Seen thread indicates, I should've reviewed the film back in Sep, 06. Better late than never, I guess. But I did include the work in my 2006 DVD List.

Credit goes to Project X, the company behind most of the recent Peter Watkins releases (all distributed via New Yorker Video), for bringing Hunger to our shores. The digitally-restored transfer is absolutely wonderful. Extra features include an insightful inteview with director Henning Carlsen, and a discussion between the multi-faceted Paul Auster and Regine Hamsun, granddaughter of Knut Hamsun.
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Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby wpqx » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:37 am

Looks like another classic film I've never heard of that I'll have to check out.
wpqx
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:22 am

NIGHT TRAIN (Poland / 1959)



Set to an elegantly mysterious lullaby, strands of which accompany certain characters and images throughout the film, the opening overhead shot of a swarming train station ultimately proves to be a symbolic delineation of humanity itself, not to mention that of the society whose cross-section we encounter in our journey in Night Train (Pociag). Directed by the gifted and versatile Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Mother Joan of the Angels [1961], Austeria [1983], Quo Vadis? [2001] -- who, alongside the likes of Andrzej Wajda, Tadeusz Konwicki and late Andrzej Munk, is regarded as a one of the key members of the post-W.W.II Polish film movement -- this alluring, noirish effort concerns a handful of passengers in the sleeping car of a crowded overnight express heading for the Baltic Sea coast during the holidays. Conflict arises early as a couple of strangers selfishly end up vying for privacy. Jerzy (the late, great Leon Niemczyk, Knife in the Water [1962], Inland Empire [2006]), a seemingly distraught and unsettled individual, eventually agrees to share a cabin with a beauteous blonde named Marta (Lucyna Winnicka, Mother Joan of the Angels; Mrs. Kawalerowicz), who herself appears to be hiding a mystery in her soulfully resigned eyes ("No one wants to love, everyone wants to be loved," she once muses). Referencing Hitchcock and Lang, the film subtly incorporates the disparate group of passengers, some still nursing the emotional wounds of the Second World War and the uncertain political period which followed, while others, a generation younger perhaps, are either looking for love or are inclined to flaunt their vengeful mentality (the opportunity for which emanates once its discovered that a wife-murderer, the news of whom were found in a newspaper article being read early on in the film, is riding on the train). Exquisitely shot in b&w -- the expressive lighting schemes are absolutely masterful, especially considering the spare, claustrophobic setting -- Night Train is an existential yet intimate gem which contemplates various pertinent concepts, including that of, as one character remarks, "the modern disease, fear of anonymity."

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*The film won the "Premio Evrotecnica" award at the 1959 Venice Film Festival.
arsaib4
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:23 am

Night Train is available on U.S DVD from Facets/Polart. The transfer is serviceable at best; same applies to the other facets (no pun intended; Polart is to blame). Extras include short biographies/filmographies of the director and a couple of the actors.
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Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:45 am

Mr. Kawalerowicz passed away on December 27 in Warsaw at the age of 85. The Cannes award-winning Mother Joan of the Angels remains the best I've seen from him so far.
arsaib4
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby wpqx » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:28 am

Sad to hear, as far as I know, Mother Joan of the Angels is the only film I've seen from him. I do have some Polish films on my list to check out, so that might be on the horizon.
wpqx
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby wpqx » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:59 am

I just watched Hunger tonight and was very much drawn to the visual look of the film. The few fantasy/surreal sequences provided a great contrast. The film seems familiar but in a way I can't quite place. Per Oscarsson gives an endearing performance which has to work in order for the film to be remotely successful. Oscarsson looked a lot more familiar than he apparently was, I checked his filmography and I don't think I had seen another film with him, but that may change in the future.
wpqx
 

Re: HG x 2: Hunger (1966) & Night Train (1959)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:15 am

I believe he's better known for his theater and television work, at least at this point in his career. Carlsen briefly discusses him in the interview provided on the disc. A great performance, indeed (physically, he reminded me a little of Johnny Depp). I wonder if Carlsen made another film as accomplished as Hunger.
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