Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

Denmark , 120 min

Shown in 1980


Morten Arnfred
Just Betzer
Morten Arnfred, Jorgen Melgaard
Dirk Bruel
Allan Olsen, Frits Helmuth, Hanne Ribens, Karl Stegger

Johnny Larsen

From time to time, one senses a preoccupation with the dramas of the working class, especially the eternal coming-of-age theme within this genre. This is particularly true of Scandinavian cinema, if one peruses the work of Molander and Sjoberg, and in recent years, Bo Widerberg’s Ravens End, set in the 1930s depression, remains a classic of its kind. In Johnny Larsen, the young director, Morten Arnfred, in his first solo effort, has turned to the 1950s to describe an adolescent’s maturity in Denmark, when the day-to-day weavings of life were threatened by the specters of unemployment and the Cold War. What is marvelous about Johnny Larsen is its universality: the hero’s experiences are like the autobiography of every man, where the language is different, but the reactions, gestures and sudden exultations or sorrows touch the spectator with an undeniable authenticity. Johnny’s struggle for personal integrity and self-respect becomes a beautifully imaged social document, and very much a part of history—one learns about Danes and about oneself: an international achievement, with cinema as its magic lantern. Allan Olsen, a protegé of the director, is extraordinary in the title role. The sensitive portrayals he had given in Me and Charly and its sequel (both also shown in this Festival), are further enhanced in Johnny Larsen—his face is the perfect mirror of man’s fatalistic acceptances of childhood partings, familiar yearnings and the perils of first love.

—Albert Johnson