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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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This is one of the most moving, experimental films I have ever seen. Peter Watkins' political understanding of the times and his compassion for the struggling, alienated artist is superb. He has a unique method of linking the present to the painter's traumatic past, namely the deaths of his mother and sister from tuberculosis, when he was a boy. The camerawork and close-ups of individual faces is excellent. Munch's grief, when he loses the woman he loves, leads to his best works and a premature death. No other director has made a film about the inner and outer worlds of an artist as well as this. I highly recommend the film.
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