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Edvard Munch

Peter Watkins
United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, 1974
Production : Norvegian Broadcasting
English, Norwegian


Late 19th century in Norway. Edvard Munch is a promising young painter but he is also a man tormented by his love dramas, the fear of falling ill and tapped by an idea: to be recognized at the height of his talent... Wounded by critics, rejected by the bourgeoisie to which he wants to belong, he ends up finding refuge with the anarchists. Then begins the incredible destiny of an essential artist of the expressionist movement...

Tënk's film review

How to understand a painter, his art?
For Watkins, the answer is complex: one cannot understand him/her without understanding an intimate context, but also the societal and political stakes which cross an era. Everything is linked. And it is with strength that Watkins tackles this task.
Far from the classical form of the "artist's portrait" which generally alternates between archival documents and reconstitution, the filmmaker invents a singular form: as if Munch and his contemporaries had been constantly filmed. Thus the filmmaker does not seek to illustrate or document a subject, but to capture in one film what Munch and his time were, using the multiple resources of the audiovisual tool (the editing is particularly remarkable).
"Edvard Munch" is a work, of a rare amplitude, that contains the expression of a revolt, of a commitment that runs just as much through the work of the painter Munch as that of the filmmaker Watkins.

Sylvain Bich
Film projectionist

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Peter Watkins

Peter Watkins, born in 1935, is an English director. After studying drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, he was soon recruited by the BBC. He then directed "The Bomb" (Oscar for best documentary, 1966), a film that was censored in England for 20 years. This experience was to be decisive, Watkins moved away from his country and made counter-current films. As a convinced pacifist and media critic, he proposed a committed and atypical cinema, freed from traditional narrative and aesthetic forms, dealing in particular with war and its absurdities. "Les Gladiateurs" (1968), "Punishment Park" (1971), "Edvard Munch" (1974), "Le Voyage" (1987) and "La Commune (Paris, 1871)" (2000) are all landmark films in the history of cinema.

Other films in the collection: Arts