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Edvard Munch

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Product Details

  • Actors: Geir Westby, Gro Fraas, Kerstii Allum, Eric Allum, Susan Troldmyr
  • Directors: Peter Watkins
  • Writers: Peter Watkins
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, French, Norwegian
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Project X
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 210 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1NX90
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,997 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Edvard Munch" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New director-approved High Definition video transfer
  • Peter Watkins Filmography
  • 24 page booklet featuring new Peter Watkins self-interview and full cast and credits

Editorial Reviews


Positing itself as a live documentary filmed between 1884-1894, director Peter Watkins' experimental biography of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch(played by Geir Westby) is an angst-ridden glimpse into the traumatic political and social conditions that birthed Munch's invention of Expressionism. Tracing Munch's rise to infamy, the film begins in Victorian-era Christiania (Oslo), where Munch spent his formative years with a family plagued by disease. It then follows Munch to Berlin, where after studying Symbolism and befriending August Strindberg, Munch finds the impetus to create honest work that mimics his life rife with disconnect and rejection, despite scathing reviews by conservative art critics for his "nervous dissolving treatment of color." Plot-heavy scenes set in his studio and elsewhere are interrupted, as if by Munch's own obsessive memories, by shots of his lost true love, "Mrs. Heiberg" (Gro Fraas), accentuating the loneliness and longing Munch feels for this unattainable married woman. As the film's somber color palette alternates between black and blue, Munch's preferred "colors of death," Munch's interior thoughts are conveyed through Watkins' experimentation with sound and film. The sound made by Munch's brush scratching canvas is, at times, unbearably magnified, for example, and visual montages featuring close-ups of the artist's facial expressions elucidate Munch's disturbed emotional states and fragile nerves. The film's expressive qualities emulate the artist's stylistic approach to his art-making, making Edvard Munch an especially convincing artist's biopic. –-Trinie Dalton

Product Description

Famously described by Ingmar Bergman as a "work of genius", Peter Watkins' multi-faceted masterpiece is more than just a bio-pic of the iconic Norwegian Expressionist painter. 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, and his work is viciously attacked by the critics and public alike. 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.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Newlove on February 17, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I've seen this twice, the first time in its theatrical showing, maybe twenty years ago, then more recently on video, which as I recall was also in widescreen. So that's six hours with Watkins' demandingly beautiful film. For awhile I later confused Watkins with David Watkins, the fabulous photographer of OUT OF AFRICA, and for all I know these two filmmakers are related. EDVARD MUNCH is a masterpiece of tonalities. This is a movie about light. You are in a Munch work just by the demanding beauty of the light and of Watkins' inspired painterliness with rich Munch-like blues. The smokey blue scenes in Bohemian bars have the same dense sense of lost time recaptured as do scenes of Munch painting in his attics and scoring his pictures violently as the sharp end of his brush digs into fresh paint and almost rips his canvas. When you think of John Huston's MOULIN ROUGE, a dull film with some good moments, particularly when Lautrec's "hand" draws figures on a restaurant table, we remember mostly idle moments in Lautrec's lovelife (and of course the Can-Can dancers). From EDVARD MUNCH we recall far more extraordinary feelings of being lifted out of ourselves and thrust back into the very rooms Munch lived in and the into the Scandanavian light he worked in and into the tortured set of his mind as he shrank figures into hard, strong, symbolic forms. I await the day this film appears digitally (it was never a laser disc, sad to say, or I'd have it already). Since it may not be issued on DVD for eight or ten years, seek the video cassette version. You will watch it more than once. Maybe not in the same year but it will be a respected treasure that you will thank yourself for having sought out. Or rent it first. Maybe you don't really have to own it if it will be on hand for renting. Still, not all that many stores will have it ready to rent, now that it's out of print. And even if the video is not in widescreen, you will be dazzled just by the blue tones filling the monitor.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jon C. McNeill on October 14, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Edvard Munch is the Citizen Kane that nobody saw. From a storytelling point of view, its portrayal of the constant torment that led to Munch's art is oddly enthralling throughout its 3+ hr length. From a filmmaking point of view, Munch is like no other (except, perhaps, Watkins other later work). To my knowledge, no one has so expertly reproduced the personal thoughts and internal feelings of a man on screen as Watkins does in Munch. Sounds, images, narration, recollections--all float in and out of Munch's consciousness and into ours during this captivating biography on the Norwegian artist most famous for "The Shriek."
Perhaps every aspect of this film is avant-garde, from its editing all the way down to its casting (many parts were played by non-professionals), but perhaps no other movie has enveloped me in its universe the way that Munch does. I have always marveled at how little-known Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch is, and I've been so thankful that it found me. You will be too.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Tashiro on October 26, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
EDVARD MUNCH is an ambitious, often heavy-going effort to transcend traditional artist biographies with a cinematic equivalent of the artist's paintings. It fails, but on the way succeeds in so many other ways that the failure almost doesn't matter.
In interviews, director Peter Watkins has been explicit about his total identification with Munch, how in the obsessive effort to portray the artist's life on screen, he effectively was revealing his own neuroses and experiences. People might be put off by the results. Watkins gives the film the look of a fictional biography. He then films events as if he were a documentary filmmaker present at the time. So there is a lot of loose, hand-held camera; there are "interviews" with actors (many of whom improvised or wrote their responses) speaking in character; and Watkins himself frequently intrudes with narration that helps us understand both Munch's significance in the history of art and how his times influenced his work. The voice-over also tells us what Munch feels and experiences, much as the narrator of a novel pretends to know what his protagonist is thinking at any given moment.
It is this effort to reveal the relationship between the artist's turmoil and his work that motivates the kaleidoscopic editing style, jumping from one event in the "present," to one in the past, sideways to another, back to something else we've already seen, then out again. Sometimes these edits are built on visual associations; often Watkins relies on the soundtrack to glue them together. It is here that the film's ambitions start to unravel. Other filmmakers who have used such technique (Eisenstein, Resnais, Godard and Roeg, for example) let their cuts ebb and flow over time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris on July 26, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great and unjustly neglected film about Edvard Munch from childhood to his mental breakdown in 1908. Covering his life in Norway and Berlin, the film relentlessly tracks towards his collapse through repeated flashbacks to create the sense of a life slowly but inexorably slipping out of control. One of the few films about artists to do justice to their art, it also gives a wonderful insight into the late 19th century Norwegian bohemians who influenced and were influenced by Munch. Watching this film will make you a Munch convert (read Sue Prideaux's recent biography Behind the Scream to find out more). It would be 5 stars but this is the cut down (still over 2 hours) version. If you can find it, get the 210 minute version as this film justifies every minute in front of the screen.
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