24 September 1999 | woody-81
One of best films to be produced in Denmark during the 1970ties
'The Missing Clerk' is fine storytelling. Based upon Hans Sherfig's provocative novel, this story brings us the life of Teodor Amsted - a well-dressed man who is captured in a strict, conservative society. A society, that the calm and dominated man wants to escape from in his dreams. Teodor Amsted is living in a beautiful villa with his bourgeoise wife and their skinny little professor of a son. The surface of reality gives everyone in their surroundings the impression that this couple is doing great. But inside of Teodor Amsted another life of spontaneity and freedom just calls out for him. But how can he leave this present life behind, so that he can begin another one? The ingenious little man then succeeds in plotting his own death. That is, he manages to get people to believe that he is actually killed in an explosion - even though the disfigured man who is killed is not Amsted. The other man is buried and Teodor Amsted is now a free man. Gone are all the responsibilities towards any authorities - including the demanding wife. In stead, Teodor Amsted grabs his bags and drives out into the quiet surroundings of the Danish countryside. Out here, the birds are singing and life is simple, it seems. Amsted - a middle-aged man - can now for the first time in his entire life enjoy being alive. In fact, he is now going through the uplifting stages of childhood and adolescence, which he was never allowed to feel and taste when he was younger. The wealthy loner, Amsted, rents a small room in a common village and does all the things that were not allowed before. And the new life is wonderful. But soon the villagers become more and more suspicious towards the stranger. Who is he? What does he want? He is probably a crook! But Amsted tries not to care. He pays his landlord on time and minds his own business. But the villagers can not accept that. They want to know who he is. And step by step the relaxing life is turned upside down. And destiny shows that life out here is not that simple either. The villagers are just as eager to put Amsted into special boxes of personality as the people of his former sphere did. This shows a critical point from the author towards how our societies and interactions work. We try to set up rules for our selves and our surroundings. How everybody is supposed to behave, how we should look and how we should think. Thereby, the force of the individual life is suppressed and becomes impossible to live out. All Teodor Amsted wants is a quiet spot where he can live his own way of life. But destiny shows that he himself is deeply battered by being controlled and reviewed all his life. He can not escape that fact even though he tried. Within weeks the police grab Amsted and ends his new life. He is imprisoned during the trial and inside the prison Amsted finds that kind of quietness and simple, systematic life he always wanted. But briefly hereafter he is let out into the 'free' world. The wife wants nothing to do with him. Neither does the office where he used to work.
In stead, Amsted is walking the streets, thinking about how he should live his life. And suddenly the brilliant man comes up with the single idea that could make his life at ease; he wants to become a murderer, so that he can return to his beloved prison... Watch it and think about it. It is a gem. - Allan Bo Poulsen