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Film / The Bus

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The Bus (Bussen) is a Norwegian comedy film (albeit with a serious undertone) made in 1961, and remade for Danish audiences in 1963. The plotline is essentially the same in both films:

A bus driver, who owns and drives an old fashioned model, is greatly loved by the local community. He takes his time, is known to run errands for people on the way, and is a social glue between people. If anyone`s in trouble, be sure the bus driver is there to fix it, although the lagging makes his rounds more than a little late. As his bus is an old model, the vehicle has to be pushed uphill in the more difficult parts of the road. In spite of this, people love him, not least for his reliability and his human attitude. The only one who scorns him is the municipality clerk, who has a scheme to get rid of him, installing a new and more modern bus, and connecting the local route to a bigger network of routes. This may cost the busdriver his job, but would guarantee more efficiency for the passengers. The mayor tries to protect the driver, and his wife (who is also the local midwife) even more. When it is known what the plans are, a public rebellion evolves, securing that a new bus is installed, and that the bus driver keeps his profession. The midwife and all the commoners shame the municipality council into relenting to their wishes.

The Danish version made some amendments to the original script, putting in a Love Triangle for the main character (who also was a younger actor), more Slapstick, and generally a more urban environment. This version is also Lighter and Softer compared to the original storyline, tied up some loose ends, and relied even more on the Rule of Funny.


  • Absent Father: The father of Kaja, a nine year old girl the bus driver cares for and almost adopts.
  • The Alleged Car: The old bus, actually a model from 1921, having been on the road for 40 years when the movie was shot. As shown, it hardly managed to get uphill without the passengers pushing it.
  • Answer Cut: The movie cuts back and forth between the debating council (actually debating Thorvald`s destiny) and a number of small chickens, who wander around on top of Thorvald while he sleeps, picking on him.
  • As Himself: Leif Juster, who played the Norwegian bus driver, had the part written especially for him. At the very end of the movie, he winks to the audience, as if saying "yep, it was me all along".
    • Handwaved in the midwife`s Rousing Speech: "Oh, that long goof!" (Juster was rather long and gangly, and used it as a comedic asset).
  • Bar Brawl: Lars gets into a spectacular fight with eight other boys, because Helga set him up. The reason for this, by the way, is Thorvald the driver, and the possibility that Lars could take over his job. Thorvald gets Lars out of the fight, and starts to mentor him in the ways of the bible ("Turn the other cheek). This session is partly theological, partly Good Old Fisticuffs, and totally hilarious.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The entire community enters the Municipality council and effectively orders them to shut up in the nick of time.
  • Bowdlerized: The Danish version edited out some of the more questionable and difficult elements. Kaja, who lives with a mother who neglects her because of her irresponsible ways, is replaced by an older sister, who takes care of her. The whole plotline is solved differently, as this sister is Martin`s Love Interest. The social implication with a careless mother and an Absent Father (which actually was a problem) is left uncommented. The Norwegian version also lays of the mother as a "lost case", and we never hear more from her. In Norway, we also get a classical brawl scene (common in Norwegian rural areas), and Kaja is almost run over by the bus, and breaks her arm. The Norwegian movie also has some comments on social policies and the problem with centralization, with the Beadle working against his government for the best of the commoners. Those traits would not be understood in Denmark, who has a different take on government and social problems.
  • Celibate Hero: The Norwegian driver. NOT his Danish counterpart.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The moss collectors seem to be a borderline case, as they actually speak common sense (sometimes), but never fit in the bigger environment.
  • Cool Old Lady: Clara the midwife.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Fjell-Olsen, the clerk, in both versions of the movie. In Denmark, he is even more evil (beheading a chicken the driver could not possibly harm), and is The Rival for the driver`s Love Interest (Kaja`s sister).
  • Crowd Song: The bus song in both versions, with all the children on the bus tuning in on the refrain. The Danish version is orchestrated, while the Norwegian is not.
  • Cultural Translation: Watch the movies and you will see what makes the Danish different from the Norwegians. The original version is more rugged, more rural, and more strict on morality codes. Centralization is commented upon, and another set of social problems is imminent. Note that the Beadle, who works on behalf of the people against his own superiors, is flatly edited out in Denmark, because this trait would seem foreign there.
  • Death Glare: Consider that many of the farmers are elected to the municipality Council, while their wives are in the spontaneous protest movement. When entering the municipality hall, one of those wives (who remain unnamed) sends a scolding look towards her husband who admittedly has schemed against Torvald. He cowers instantly.
  • Dub Name Change: A number of names were changed between remakes. Thorvald was the name of the driver in Norway, while his Danish name was Martin. Only Lars, Helga and Kaja kept their original names.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In the Norwegian version, Thorvald the driver takes his licence plates off the bus after he has driven into Kaja, causing her injury. Later, he drives away from the community with the moss collectors, only to find that the commoners run after him. When they ask how to stop him, the beadle wryly comments:
    I could, of course, arrest him. He is, after all, driving without his licence plates.
  • Foreign Remake: The Danish version acknowledges the original Norwegian version. A Foreign Remake set inside Scandinavia. It actually underlines differences between Danish and Norwegian mentalities.
  • Friend to All Children: Both drivers initially are.
  • Friend to All Living Things: None of the drivers have the heart to kill a chicken ("I can`t chop the head of someone who blinks at me!")
  • Gentle Giant: Lars, a semi-professional boxer in the Danish version, and a local truck driver and mook in the Norwegian one. He is far more unhappy in the original, wishing he never was that strong. He is the boyfriend of Helga (and gets married to her in Denmark).
  • Greek Chorus: Three moss collectors, only present in the Norwegian version. They communicate almost entirely with the driver, and are in some way related to him, coming from the same secluded area.
  • Hen Pecked Husband: The mayor. He seems actually a little lost and helpless without his wife.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The Danish film cranks the girls (Helga and Kaja`s sister) up a couple of notches from the original.
  • Ironic Echo: Early in the movie, the mayor gives Thorvald this councel: "Trust my instinct". Later on, his wife Clara puts more weight behind it and repeats on her own behalf: "Trust my instinct!" - and even later on, when the mayor stands lost in the farmyard, unable to find her (and unable to locate her in the barn, where she is making paroles for the coming public protest): "He doesn´t have much instinct at all..."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kaja`s sister in the Danish version. Downplayed on her mother in the Norwegian version. Also Helga, the girl working at the beadle`s.
  • Lighter and Softer: Danish vs Norwegian, who dwells more on social criticism and political anvils.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: The Danish women resort to this to make their husbands comply to their wishes regarding Martin the driver.
  • Norwegian Language Struggle: The only person to speak posh Norwegian (or straight Book Language), is the Obstructive Bureaucrat Fjell-Olsen aka The Antagonist. The reoresentative of the "united bus companies" also count here. Everybody else speak dialectal (more or less, becase Kaja was played by an Oslo native: Synne Skouen). This trait is, of course, absent in Denmark, where everybody speak "Danish standard".
  • The Philosopher: The bus driver. Flanderized in Denmark to make him almost a Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Thorvald the driver has an entire scene by himself, discussing the greek philosopher Diogenes, while sitting on a barrel. He even acts out the part where Diogenes answered Alexander the great: "Move aside, so the sun can shine on me". Thorvald comments: "That`s being high and mighty! I should like to be friends with him!"
  • Playing Against Type: Thorvald the bus driver is played by comedian Leif Juster, who managed to downplay his usual antics to show other acting qualities to the public. A more obvious example is the beadle, played by Tore Foss. He was usually typecasted as "the benevolent clergyman" or other officials. The beadle, though kind, is brash, rough in the edges and not smooth at all (he sounds and looks like a benevolent bulldog). For anyone used to Foss as a soft spoken clergyman, his way of shutting people up in this movie would come as a surprise.
  • Rebel Leader: The midwife takes the helm when his husband the mayor does not. He lampshades it by telling her "this is rebellion". The Beadle, although inside the law, is behind her all the way.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Beadle. Also the midwife.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: The beadle, working to obstruct the council`s machinations from inside the law. He also lampshades it a number of times. At the end of the movie, he shows himself to have been hidden behind the crowd of commoners (literally being behind them).
  • Soapbox Sadie: The socialist in the council, stating that the people should have control over the "means of communication (Shout-Out to Karl Marx), and calling Thorvald a "petit bourgeois" standing against the greater capital power. Later, when La Résistance enters the room, he is the one to protest "in the name of democracy". The midwife shuts him up rather quickly.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: All things considered, the bus driver and the midwife are the social service in this community.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech / Rousing Speech: The final speech given by Klara the midwife on behalf of Thorvald the driver, briefed down in the Danish version. It effectually shames the council into seeing their mistakes.
  • Team Mom: Clara the midwife, rousing the entire community to action. Nobody actually questions her judgement, and she even silences a young socialist:
    Once, I delivered you as a midwife. If I knew what you would become, I would have put you back in!
  • The Tease: Helga, girlfriend of Lars. She is also the reason he always gets into fights. She breaks up with him in the Norwegian version, and marries him in the Danish. Thorvald the driver is seemingly aware of this, and also rather tired of it:
    Don`t hang over me, I said! Just stop that embracing, will you! That`s exactly what makes Lars furious. And stop licking me!
    • Later, he recommends that Lars breaks up with her, because he actually is "too good" for her.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The municipality council, not the commoners. Lampshaded by the Midwife in her speech:
    Remember when you delayed him, Moen (adressing one particular member). Then, much was at stake. Did you ever thank him?
  • Verbal Tic: The moss collectors. Usually, one of them says something, and the other two just repeat what the first one said. They are so used to do this, that when one of them (usually the third one) gives a Non Sequitur line, the other two just look at him funny.