Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist, ... See full summary »
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Erik L. Christensen
Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist, the film also flashes back to the death from consumption of his mother, when he was five, his sister's death, and his near death at 13 from pulmonary disease. The film finds enduring significance in Munch's brief affair with "Mrs. Heiberg" and his participation in the café society of anarchist Hans Jaeger in Christiania and later in Berlin with Strindberg. Through it all comes Munch's melancholy and his desire to render on canvas, cardboard, paper, stone, and wood his innermost feelings. Written by
I felt as if there were invisible threads between us. I felt as if invisible threads from her hair still twisted themselves around me. And, when she completely disappeared there, over the ocean, then I felt still how it hurt, where my heart bled, because the threads could not be broken.
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"Cinematographic, enlightening and extraordinary..."
English screenwriter, film editor and director Peter Watkins' documentary drama which he wrote with the actors, was screened Out of Competition at the 29th Cannes International Film Festival in 1976, was originally made as a miniseries in three parts and is a Norway-Sweden co-production. It tells the story about Norwegian painter Edvard Munch who was born in the village of Ådalsbruk in the municipality of Løten which is located in the county of Hedmark in Eastern Norway on the 12th of December in 1863. Amongst his four siblings Johanne Sophie, Inger Marie, Petter Andreas and Laura Cathrine Munch, Edvard was the second eldest of two boys and three girls who spent most of their early lives in the, at that time, capital of Norway. In Christiania which was politically conservative, protestant by religion and where most of the inhabitants was middle-class, the children of former housemaid Laura Cathrine Bjølstad/Munch and family supporter Christian Munch often had to move around from one crowded house to another in the poorer districts of Christiania due to their father's medical practice. In the early 1880s when he made his first self-portrait and studied under Norwegian naturalist painter and journalist Christian Krogh (1852-1925), Edvard joined a cultural movement called the Christiania Bohemians, a small group of radical writers and artists who emphasized the virtue of human emotions and protested against the existing order. This minority of young naturalists was fronted by their spokesman Hans Jæger, a writer and anarchist who became Edvard's friend. Edvard who as his siblings had been marred by a strict religious upbringing and much illness in the family, did not have a good relationship with his Christian father, and his association with this man whom his father naturally detested increased their estrangement. During his time with the bohemians, he met a 24-year-old woman named Andrea Fredrikke Emilie.
Distinctly and subtly directed by English documentary filmmaker Peter Watkins, this finely paced biographical late 19th century period piece which is narrated by, amongst others, the director, painter Oda Lasson Krogh (1860-1935) and Edvard Munch (1863-1944) whose words and dialog derive from his diaries, draws an intimate and internal portrayal of a renowned Scandinavian artist's close relationship with his sisters, conflicting relationship with his father, amorous relationship with a married woman and struggle to express his notion of the underlying and unspoken emotional suffering that he and his family had to endure. While notable for its naturalistic milieu depictions, sterling cinematography by Norwegian cinematographer and director Odd-Geir Sæther, production design by Norwegian production designer and art director Grethe Hejer and costume design by Norwegian costume designer Ada Skolmen (1911-2006), this narrative-driven homage which examines themes like family relations, adversity, politics, gender roles, marriage, love, jealousy and art, depicts a comprehensive and reverent study of a harshly criticized and by many admired person.
This historic epic about an accomplished expressionist painter who to a certain degree sacrificed love for his art and achieved worldwide acclaim with his psychological canvases which he often drew from his own experiences and in a way painted with his own soul, is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, rhythmic pace, numerous character portraits and love-stories, anachronistic dialog, engaging narration, interviews, the quite exceptional scenes of Edvard Munch painting and the rarely efficient acting performances by the great ensemble cast consisting of non-professional actors like Norwegian artist Geir Lederer, formerly known as Geir Westby and Norwegian painter and printmaker Gro Fraas. A cinematographic, enlightening and extraordinary documentary drama from the early 1970s which recreates essential scenes from the life of a gifted, educated and stubborn individual who influenced forthcoming 20th century expressionists, went from naturalism to modernism, from one country to another and remained true to a lifestyle that significantly affected his adulthood and his interpersonal relationships.
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