One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (film)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a joint Norwegian-British film, based on the novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with the same name and released in 1970. The Norwegian title is En dag i Ivan Denisovitsj' liv. The movie stars Tom Courtenay as the title character, a prisoner in the Soviet gulag system of the 1950s who endures a long prison sentence. It tells of one routine day in his life.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Directed byCaspar Wrede
Produced byCaspar Wrede
Screenplay byRonald Harwood
Based onOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
StarringTom Courtenay
Espen Skjønberg
James Maxwell
Music byArne Nordheim
CinematographySven Nykvist
Hans Nord
Distributed byNorsk Film A/S
Release date
  • 7 December 1970 (1970-12-07) (Sweden)
  • 16 May 1971 (1971-05-16) (United States)
Running time
Germany: 105 min
Norway: 104 min
USA: 100 min
CountryUnited Kingdom / Norway


Banning in Finland

Finnish film director Jörn Donner tried to get the film to Finland, but the Finnish Board of Film banned the showing of the film. In 1972 Donner complained to Supreme Administrative Court of Finland. The Supreme Administrative Court voted for the banning 5-4 on 28 February 1972. When, in 1972 and 1974, Swedish television showed the film, the Swedish television mast on the Åland Islands was shut down during the movie to prevent Finns from seeing the film.

Director of the Finnish Board of Film Jerker Eeriksson said that the banning of the film was political because it harmed the Finnish-Soviet relationship. Director of the film Caspar Wrede, who then lived in England, refused to campaign against the banning in order to avoid bad publicity abroad.

The film was shown in Finland in 1993 and 1994 in the movie theater Orion in Helsinki, as well as in the cinema club in Vaasa. Finnish television showed the film in 1996 on the TV1 YLE channel.


  • Hellman, Ben; Rogachevskii, Andrei (2010). Filming the Unfilmable : Casper Wrede's "One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich". Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag. ISBN 9783838200446.
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