Hamsun

Pulling off heroically scaled epics about Nazi sympathizers is always a little tricky. The better the movie, the more palatable the whole despicable subject may become. Case in point: Swedish director Jan Troell's superbly crafted bio-pic of Nobel Prize-winning Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun. Thanks to some gorgeous cinematography, Arvo Part's stirring...read more

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Pulling off heroically scaled epics about Nazi sympathizers is always a little tricky. The better the movie, the more palatable the whole despicable subject may become. Case in point: Swedish director Jan Troell's superbly crafted bio-pic of Nobel Prize-winning

Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun. Thanks to some gorgeous cinematography, Arvo Part's stirring soundtrack and Max von Sydow's brilliant performance as Hamsun, it may be too engaging for its own good. Opening in 1935, Troell's film focuses on the last 17 years of the writer's life, when Hamsun

profoundly tainted his reputation as Norway's greatest living novelist by becoming an outspoken supporter of Adolf Hitler. Driven by fervent nationalism, disgust with what he saw as Europe's decadent liberalism and a nearly pathological hatred of all things British, Hamsun published several

pro-Nazi newspaper editorials and even went so far as to meet with the Fuhrer himself, in hopes of securing Norway a prominent place in the "New Europe." Troell and screenwriter Per Olov Enquist position Hamsun as a master of language who, ironically, became an easily manipulated mouthpiece for

other people's words -- a result, they suggest, of his poor hearing, inability to speak or understand German and a general isolation from reality that seems to be the lot of great artists. While Troell may not specifically intend to rescue Hamsun from his well-deserved ignominy, excuses and

explanations are nonetheless kept readily at hand. In the end, this masterful film has the uncomfortable feel of an apologia.

<p></p><p>Antoni Porowski and Tan France, <em style="">Queer Eye</em></p>
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