© Polyband/24 Bilder

Mein Freund Knerten (Knerten)
Norway 2009

Opening 30 Jun 2011

Directed by: Åsleik Engmark
Writing credits: Anne-Cath Vestly, Birgitte Bratseth
Principal actors: Adrian Grønnevik Smith, Petrus A. Christensen, Pernille Sørensen, Jan Gunnar Røise, Åsleik Engmark

In this delightful Norwegian children’s film, a small boy named Lillebror, along with his parents and older brother, move to a broken-down house in the countryside in order to escape the high expenses of the city. His father is a travelling wholesale salesman of ladies’ underwear; not very many shop owners are open to adding underwear to their stock, so he works long hours. His brother Phillip must adjust to his country bumpkin classmates, who are antagonistic to new boys on the block. His mother attracts the attention of the owner of their own local general store, Mr. Eilertsen. He hires her as a clerk in his shop – a place where children are considered to be worse than pests. All family members are absorbed in their own problems; there are few children in the neighborhood, and Lillebror is left to his own devices.

Not to worry. His new best friend is a talking branch from a tree with more personality than most humans, named Knerten. Lillebror must protect Knerten: a dog chews him like a bone; his father throws him into the blazing fireplace; two small girls dress him up like a baby doll. In return Knerten provides companionship. Together they visit an old cabinet maker, who helps Lillebror make a small bed for his twiggy friend. They see a princess in the woods, who turns up at his house in real life. They help the father raise sales miraculously and celebrate a huge village Christmas Eve, dancing around the holiday tree.

Based on a series of children’s books by Anne-Catharina Vestly, a famous author in Norway, this film would enchant anyone five years or older. It’s refreshing to see such optimism which brings the message of sharing, communicating, and growing, using simple old-fashioned settings from the 1960s. Forget animation, 3D, and complicated characters. This is a straightforward story of a young boy (excellently played by small Adrian Grønnevik Smith), who overcomes loneliness with nothing but his imagination and a stick. “Have you ever sung with a stick before?” If not, this is your chance. The second Knerten film is already showing successfully in Norway, and we can only hope that it, too, will come to Germany. Directed by Åsleik Engmark. (Isabel Stolte)

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