DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of O'Horten

This DVD offers a ten-minute interview with director/producer Bent Hamer and a second, 13-minute interview with Hamer and his composer John Eric Kaada, both conducted in Norwegian before a studio audience. There is a further 26-minute interview with Hamer, in English and evidently filmed exclusively for Artificial Eye.

So much face-time with Hamer might seem to compensate for the lack of an audio commentary, but anyone looking for close comment on the film may be disappointed by Hamer's indirect, somewhat abstract approach. "In a way," he asserts at one point, "it's also a film about the mothers who gave birth to these old men at one point in their lives." Yes, but only in the way that Francis Ford Copolla's The Godfather, say, might be considered a film about dental care. This tendency towards fuzziness is not helped by the Norwegian moderator's insistence on asking overgeneral questions about the creative process – questions which Hamer answers somewhat reluctantly and with predictable vagueness.

Far more interesting are Hamer's anecdotes about the avuncular, Keatonesque qualities of the film's leading man Bård Uwe, not to mention his decided eccentricties. "He's been in different sects," reports the director, "he wears electric stuff so that if you touch him you get electric shocks." Hamer also has things to say about his experiences as a producer (positive in Europe, negative in the US), and his mixed feelings regarding the advent of digital.

"There was something about your pling-plong sounds", is the reason given by Hamer for hiring Kaada as composer. After resolving some comic problems involving his stubble interfering with his interview microphone, Kaada suggests that the biggest challenge in scoring O'Horten was exercising restraint: "I wouldn't want to step on those fragile characters." Despite Kaada's acknowledgement of the potential banality involved in discussions of music, this is a real insight into the success of his fey soundtrack.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2009
Share this with others on...
O'Horten packshot
An engine driver adjusting to retirement has a series of strange adventures.
Amazon link

Product Code: ART441DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen

Sound: Stereo 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Two interviews with director Bent Hamer, interview with Hamer and composer John Eric Kaada, theatrical trailer, Artificial Eye trailer reel

Search database: