Famously described by the late Ingmar Bergman as "a work of genius", Peter Watkins' multi-faceted masterwork is more than just a biopic of the iconic Norwegian Expressionist painter, it is one of the best films made about the artistic process. Focusing initially on Munch's formative years in late 19th century Kristiania (now Oslo), Watkins uses his trademark style to create a vivid picture of the emotional, political and social upheavals that would have such an effect on his art. The young artist (Geir Westby) has an affair with "Mrs. Heiberg" (Gro Fraas), a devastating experience that will haunt him for the rest of his life. His work is viciously attacked by critics and public alike and he is forced to leave his home country for Berlin, where, along with the notorious Swedish playwright August Strindberg, he becomes part of the cultural storm that is to sweep Europe.
Geir Westby, Gro Fraas, Kerstii Allum, Eric Allum, Susan Troldmyr, Ragnvald Caspari, Katja Pedersen, Hjordis Ulriksen, Inger-Berit Oland, Amund Berge, Camilla Falk, Erik Kristiansen, Anne-Marie Daehli
If you have any love of art and need to know the life of Edvard Munch, this will tell you. Cleverly coordinating his life and feelings with that of his creativity and particular paintings of that time. Be warned however for some this will take some watching but I found it compulsive viewing. You are left with understanding how a true artist persues his art to the very point of insanity. A great piece.Amazing the americans have not copied it.
An Epic Portrayal
- Edvard Munch review by Jawbreaker
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You rated this film: 3
Edvard Munch is best known today for painting The Scream. Peter Watkins undertakes a thorough recreation and exploration of his life with this film. As with his previous work, Watkins utilises a documentary television style, which focuses on small sets and close up shots. This really conveys the realism in a way I never expected; forget about your period dramas with fabulous cinematography. The attention to detail is just as good, with the period costumes and fittings faithfully duplicated, but in Edvard Munch the actors live and breathe the era. It is a remarkable journey, set amidst great change in the country, with widespread poverty and the rich becoming richer. Considered by many to be his masterpiece, I actually prefer Punishment Park as it has more resonance today. In comparison Edvard Munch in being totally faithful to the source, is an epic in scope and length that requires splitting or at least some editing. If you are new to Peter Watkins, then it would be beneficial to start with Punishment Park.
This is a fine documentary. The re-enactments avoid many of the cliches about circles of bohemian artists in turmoil that are so often found in such documentaries. Here the discomforting story is told unflinchingly and the use of the third person narrative works very well. It is refreshing to have the dawn of twentieth century modernism's told from a Norther European point of view that does not assume artistic breakthroughs were all centred on Paris. Radical artistic and intellectual endeavour is shown as messy, chaotic and profoundly challenging for those involved.