Henning Carlsen

(1927 – 2014)

Director. Born 4 June 1927, died 30 May 2014, aged 86.

Henning Carlsen grew up in Aalborg, in a conservative middle-class home, and became connected to the Resistance in 1943. After some tumultuous school years that ended short of a high-school diploma, he was gripped by cinema, apprenticing at Minerva Film. He stayed there from 1948-53, working in documentaries and instructional films, with Theodor Christensen as his master.

From 1954-57 he was at Nordisk Film Junior (interrupted by a six-month study trip to Paris in 1955). He had a small breakthrough with "The Bicyclist" (1957), the fanciful tale of a bicycle that has a mind of its own. In 1961 he attracted attention with his documentaries "Limfjorden" (Da. title) and, especially, "Old People." The latter was the first film in an interview-based, cinéma verité-inspired trilogy about Danish living habits and attitudes and was followed by "Family Pictures" (1964) and "Youth" (1965).

Carlsen made his debut as a feature-film director in 1962 with the South Africa "A World of Strangers" (1962), freely adapting the Nadine Gordimer novel from 1958. Exposing the apartheid of its day, the film was illegally shot, whenever possible with a hidden camera. After going to Sweden to direct "The Cats" (1965), a compressed drama about women, Carlsen had his international breakthrough in 1966 with his intense adaptation of the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun''s classic novel "Hunger" (1966). This Danish-Swedish-Norwegian co-production attracted a lot of attention at the Cannes Festival, while Per Oscarsson in the lead won the award for best male actor.

Ever since, "Hunger" has cemented its reputation as a central work in Danish film history. The American writer Paul Auster, for one, has called it the best literary adaptation he ever saw.

Following another two adaptations of novels, Carlsen switched gears with "Oh, to Be on the Bandwagon!" (1971), an everyday drama about some very Danish daydreamers that was a hit with audiences and critics. The French-Danish co-production "A Happy Divorce" (1975), a Chabrol-inspired psychological drama with a French cast, screened at Cannes, while "Did Somebody Laugh?" (1978), about a young unemployed man in the 1930s, saw Carlsen returning to a more familiar Danish setting.

Carlsen''s most striking later works are "The Wolf at the Door" (1986), a lavish Danish-French film starring Donald Sutherland as the painter Paul Gauguin; the critically acclaimed "Two Green Feathers" (1995), another Knut Hamsun adaptation; and "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" (2012), a controversial adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Márquez''s that was shot in Mexico.

Title Year Function Category
Angrebet på Shellhuset 2013 Appearance DK/Documentary
Memories of my melancholy whores 2012 Direction, Script, Producer Feature
Promise 2010 Direction DK/Short fiction
Historien bag kameraet 2006 Appearance TV documentary
The Leap 2005 Direction, Script, Production DK/Feature
Noget om de praktiserende læger i Danmark 2003 Direction, Script, Editing DK/Documentary
Noget om det danske sygehusvæsen 2001 Direction, Script, Cinematography DK/Documentary
Portrættet 2000 Direction DK/Documentary
I Wonder Who''s Kissing You Now? 1998 Direction, Script, Editing, Production DK/Feature
Gensyn med Johannesburg 1996 Appearance DK/Documentary
Two Green Feathers 1995 Direction, Script Feature
Twice upon a time 1990 Editing supervisor Feature
The Wolf at the Door 1986 Direction, Script, Producer DK/Feature
Dagbog fra den spanske borgerkrig 1986 Script DK/Documentary
Elise 1985 Consultant: post-production DK/Feature
Cross My Heart 1982 Direction, Script DK/Feature
Arven 1979 Editing Feature
Did Somebody Laugh? 1978 Direction, Script, Editing DK/Feature
When Svante Disappeared 1975 Direction, Script, Production DK/Feature
A Happy Divorce 1975 Direction, Script, Production DK/Feature
In Daddy''s Pocket 1973 Production DK/Feature
Man sku'' være noget ved musikken 1972 Direction, Script, Production, Editing DK/Feature
Historiebogen 2: I daggryet trodses alle farer 1972 Editing, Sound DK/Documentary
Are You Afraid? 1971 Direction, Script, Appearance, Executive producer DK/Feature
We Are All Demons 1969 Direction, Script DK/Feature
What happened to power? 1969 Direction, Script, Producer DK/Documentary
Albert Dam - a Danish author 1969 Expert DK/Documentary
Fugls føde 1968 Supervisor DK/Short fiction
Havnsø 1968 Supervisor DK/Short fiction
People Meet and Sweet Music Fills the Heart 1967 Direction, Production, Editing, Screenplay DK/Feature
Brevet 1967 Supervisor DK/Short fiction
Hunger 1966 Direction, Editing, Executive producer, Screenplay DK/Feature
Ung 1965 Direction, Appearance, Script, Editing DK/Documentary
Family Pictures 1964 Direction, Script, Editing, Executive producer DK/Documentary
Kattorna 1964 Direction, Editing Feature
I rum sø 1964 Direction TV film
Jimmys tog 1963 Direction TV film
Hvad med os? 1963 Direction DK/Feature
A World of Strangers 1962 Direction, Script, Executive producer DK/Feature
Ren besked - om snavs 1962 Direction, Script DK/Documentary
Old People 1961 Direction, Script, Editing DK/Documentary
The Liim Fiord 1961 Direction, Script, Editing, Sound DK/Documentary
Souvenirs from Sweden 1960 Direction, Script Documentary
A Knotty Problem 1959 Direction, Script DK/Short fiction
Cyklisten 1958 Direction, Script DK/Short fiction
Straight out on the airways 1958 Direction, Script DK/Documentary
Jeg et hus mig bygge vil 1956 Direction DK/Documentary
Penge 1954 Direction DK/Documentary
Knive 1954 Direction DK/Documentary
Køleskabe 1954 Direction DK/Documentary
Farmers of the Ocean 1954 Script DK/Documentary
The doll''s house 1953 Direction, Script DK/Documentary
How to get a job 1953 Script DK/Documentary
The Civil Defence 1951 Direction, Script, Editing DK/Documentary
Alle mine skibe 1951 Assistant director DK/Documentary
Dissektion af marsvin 1950 Editing DK/Documentary