Sunday, April 12, 2015
Please note: This screening has been moved to the Francesca Beale Theater in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
Peter Watkins’s three-and-a-half-hour magnum opus is less a portrait of the great Norwegian painter Edvard Munch than it is an exposure of the artist’s frayed inner life. Indelible images of the painter’s childhood occur and recur; ecstatic moments of human connection punctuate long stretches of boredom, loneliness, and frustration; aesthetic debates within Munch’s Berlin intellectual circle, which included the playwright August Strindberg, unravel at length. The result is an artist biopic—complete with dry voiceover narration—that moves with the logic of a free verse poem or a stream-of-consciousness novel. On one level, Edvard Munch is an exhaustive portrait of a particularly fervent moment in European politics and culture. On another, it’s a painfully intimate study of an individual with a particularly acute sense for, as one character in the film puts it, “the mysterious anguish of life”—and the cathartic anguish of art.