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Denmark, 1978 (MIFF 1980, Programme 11)

Director: Henning Carlsen

Henning Carlsen's new film looks at first like a reprise of his best known film Hunger (1966) as it introduces us to a down and out in a cold Northern European winter. The film quickly departs into its own new territory however as the date 1935 comes up, and we realise that this young man is more concerned with getting to the dole office on time than struggling for artistic expression.

His hero is young, naive, innocent and jobless and his day is spent in the dole queue, the poorhouse and the cemetery, where he wanders alone. His chance meetings with an aggressive, politically sophisticated man and a flighty, highly-strung, middle-class girl, relieve his boredom somewhat, but ultimately the portrait is only of the submissive, unemployed, young man as he bows to officials and moves in a world whose politics and economics do not touch him.

"... in 1978, this pleasant, gifted, modest director returned with one bound to the eminence he held after Hunger had won the Best Actor award in Cannes in 1966 . . . Did Somebody Laugh'? is made with consummate wisdom, tolerance, and a sense of fantasy that illuminates even the tiniest exchange of dialogue. Characters reach out to touch one another in the grey misery of 1935, with news of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini on the radio, and a shared meal of gruel somehow achieves the dimensions of a sacrament — and without a wisp of rhetoric or affectation." Peter Cowie, International Film Guide.

Henning Carlsen — Born 1927 Feature films — Dilemma (1962), Epilogue (1963), The Cats (1965), Hunger (1966), Two People Meet and Sweet Mjsic Fills the Heart (1967), We are all Demons (1969), Are You Afraid (Documentary) (1970), Oh to be on the Bandwagon (1972), A Happy Divorce (1975), When Svante Disappeared (1976), Did Somebody Laugh? (1978).

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