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This review is from: Edvard Munch [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]  (DVD)
The film is both historic and subjective in it's treatment by the film maker Peter Watkins.He breaks down the old rigid hierarchies of film making used in tv,sitcom,documentary,also in films depicting the lives and works of major artists.This film is also like a mirror he holds up to his own life and struggles and rejection by his own society. Truly remarkable in that it is mounted like a documentary(with recreations of course)of the creative process,how Munch's personal life affected his art and how the changes in society also impinge.We get the influence of his personal memories in flash back.We get his family or friends staring out at us or answering questions about their attitudes to Munch or their views on sexuality.He utilises a dialectical process between sound layers and montages of image.We see his relationships with women developing-anguish,reticence,anger,longing and how they are depicted in his art.The two major paintings that are shown are The Sick Child(showing him attacking and slashing at the canvas) and The Scream with a few Vampires and The Dance of Life in between.Also the various techniques like etching and wood-cutting that he translates his paintings into.We see the various receptions of his work in Scandinavia and Germany.The most remarkable facts are Watkin's use of non-actors and how he came to make this film of 3.5 hrs.running time in Norway using only local technicians and people who only spoke Norwegian.This is a monumental piece of artistry and deserves to be better known and distributed.This is sensitive craftsmanship.
Munch was in reaction to the bourgeois,rigid,hypocritical morality of Christiana as was Knut Hamsun,giving himself over to the subjectivism,moods,feelings,images of one's inner self,in the absence(qua Neitschze) of God.Through art there was a belief in cultural and spiritual renewal.The distinction between the urban and nature have broken down.Anguish,anxiety is projected into nature or nature's dread is being blocked out.Munch experienced extreme poverty and ridicule and utilised cheap board to paint on,even letting nature take it's course(and chance) by leaving works hanging on a tree.I suspect the spirit of Munch even had a hand in the many robberies of the work, decrying the restorers attempts to clean it up!He saw the skull beneath the skin like Webster.Munch seems to have developed a dread of sexuality,thinking women would absorb all his semen-fuelled creativity.Hence his darker,later depictions as opposed to his earlier depictions of women in the sick room or in nature.Munch in the present was affected badly by his earlier loss of mother and sister to T.B. and his father's fanatical fundamentalism.Social and political events all influenced his work.His fame took off in Germany and Europe.His circle of friends in the Bohemians like Strindberg all flirted with insanity and trauma in their lives and works.In The Scream,the artistis not concerned with reality as it appears but with its inner nature and with the emotions aroused by the subject. To achieve this,the subject is exaggerated,distorted or altered to stress the emotional experience in its most intense and concentrated form.Also the use ofsolid blocks of powerful colour.We get an attack of existential angst in Northern Europe with Expressionism as its main development.You feel what the artist feels.