Hamsun – en filmberättelse / Hamsun – a screenplay (1996)


”This is a screenplay, and a family portrait from the twentieth century. It is by no means an ordinary family, and the tragedy that affects this family is also rather special. This particular family’s tragedy has a political framework that is unusual: it is the story of Knut Hamsun, his wife Marie, their four children, and of how Hamsun supported the Nazi German army of occupation when it invaded Norway, and after the war was convicted of treason.

A winner of Nobel Prize in Literature becomes a traitor to his country, a man who is highly respected becomes a man who is thoroughly despised, and his family around him falls apart while his country is first plunged into the deepest misery followed by the euphoria of liberation. A man falls from an incredible height down to the circle of the damned, while the cheers of liberation grew all the stronger.”

Thus describes Per Olof Enquist his drama of a human and intellectual dilemma in the essay that introduces Hamsun – en filmberättelse. But, says Enquist, it is also about ”the final battle of two old people, a family drama that takes place at a time when most love lives have long since ceased. This is a dance of death that starts up when death is very close, when in most marriages love, passion and hate have already withered away. This is in fact a drama of love.”

Jan Troell’s major film about this fascinating writer’s last years, with Max von Sydow in the title role and Ghita Nörby as his wife Marie, is based upon Per Olov Enquist’s screenplay. A literary work that is without doubt equal to his best novels.

Press Voices:

”devilishly skilful /…/ He lines up these sparkling little scenes. /…/ more than drama documentary with a brilliant psychological cutting edge, he gives us a great tragic drama.” Expressen

“his story for film is about a marriage’s dance of death with catastrophic results, ideologically, politically and personally. /…/ Enquist’s tale gets right to the heart of contemporary society. /…/ He does not ask the question as to Hamsun’s guilt, he asks the question as to the role and responsibility of the intellectual.” Göteborgsposten

”full of suspense and entertaining” Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

”The most interesting aspect of Enquist’s description is his manner of weaving together private life with more generally known facts, the family tragedy with the treason of a man who was a national monument. /…/ Enquist has placed a great deal of emphasis upon the emotional tension between Knut and Marie … admiration and dependence but also the many conflicts; love and hate.” Östgöta Correspondenten (SE)

International Editions:

Denmark – Samleren 1995

Italy – Iperborea 1995

France – Actes Sud 1995

Finland – Gummerus 1996

Russia – Kinoscenarij Magazine 1996

Slovakia – H & H 1996

Hungary – Europa 1997

Estonia – Loomingo Raamatukogu 1997

Germany – Hanser 2001

The Czech Republic – Havran Publs 2002