”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 new 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.