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DID SOMEBODY LAUGH?

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).

See also...

The Cyclist

Denmark, 1958
The multi-festival prize winner is an imaginatively scripted and photographed film directed at children. A lively tale told by a bicycle, it shows what can be done with a road safety propaganda film. ... More »

Souvenirs From Sweden

Sweden, 1960
An ingenious introduction to modern Sweden — its landscape and inhabitants — as seen by the well- known Danish director, Henning Carlsen. ... More »

Old People

Denmark, 1961
Is life over when old age begins? Denmark has nearly 400,000 pensioners who have lived through the difficult days after having retired. Interviews elucidate the problems which are believed to crop up… More »

HUNGER

Denmark, 1966
Based on the novel by Nobel prize­winner, Knut Hamsen, Hunger is about a penniless young writer in turn-of-the-century Oslo. The film is constructed with disruptive move­ments from reality to… More »

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE

Denmark, 1982
The film is as ambiguous as its title, and in giving no definite ending, it leaves plenty to contemplate. Claus Worm, an architect, finds himself in a desperate and embarrassing position, concerning … More »

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