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Edvard Munch

Geir Westby , Gro Fraas , Peter Watkins    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watkins would change the world if anyone cared to Oct. 14 2003
Format:VHS Tape
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Too long... Feb. 11 2012
Format:DVD
This movie is too long. A good half hour could be edited out...too much fill. Main actor's biggest part is essentially staring back st the camera! Never touches on his life and art after his breakdown. Film focuses on the "social" condition in Norway during his lifetime which,again,counts for little as it was the same in most of Europe anyway, so no real "Munch-oriented" detail. Flashbacks to scene of his dying sister number over 10. Why this incessant repetition at the expense of more interesting aspects of his life are beyond me. Again..lost opportunities by the writer/producer.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Foriegn Language Oct. 16 2010
By Benowen
Format:DVD
It's all in Norwegian and that wasn't mentioned in the promo for the product. Only the narative is in English; all the characters are speaking Norwegian which I don't understand so I feel a little cheated.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DEMANDING BEAUTY DRINKS YOU INTO ITS LIGHT Feb. 17 2001
By Donald A. Newlove - Published on Amazon.com
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.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watkins would change the world if anyone cared to Oct. 14 2003
By Jon C. McNeill - Published on Amazon.com
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things that Obsess Oct. 26 2000
By Charles S. Tashiro - Published on Amazon.com
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. Watkins simply cuts, constantly, repeatedly, without much variation in speed or rhythm. Either through a lack of confidence or talent, the images fail to compel on their own, to persuade that there is any relationship between shots not forced by the editor's heavy hand. After nearly three hours, the barrage is exhausting.
But also exhaustive. Most artist biographies on film are an embarrassment. EDVARD MUNCH is one of the very few to give us a sense of both the man and his work. You do not have to be particularly interested in Munch to find the film's experiments fascinating, even in their failure. Just be prepared to get up to stretch every once in a while.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biography of Early Munch July 26 2013
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars What made Munch a revolutionary artist Sept. 9 2014
By lonebeaut - Published on Amazon.com
This is Edvard Munch pre -"The Scream", with his tormented upbringing surrounded by tubercular family members (including himself), where illness and dying were a major part of life. It clearly affected his psyche, his obsessiveness about women, and his painting, which was revolutionary for its time.

This film is almost a documentary with actors, with a narrator keeping the viewer informed about world history as well as the social interactions of the citizens of Kristiania, where Munch lived. It's a bit heavy-handed, but Nordics tend toward gloominess and emotional inhibition. This was an era when woman were beginning to fight for their freedom to do what they wanted, not what men wanted them to do, and Edvard becomes involved with a married woman who has many affairs and thinks nothing of it.

The constant flashbacks, usually to a family member in bed coughing up blood, emphasize how his past deeply affected Munch. He himself lived until he was 80, with a psychological breakdown and illness along the way, but he was clearly a tortured man, which was captured beautifully by this film. It's a long one (apparently the original version is even longer), but it's worth it if you want to understand where great art comes from.
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