From Germany in 1976 came a biopic and dramatized quasi-documentary on the life of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, and though seriously flawed, it is also fascinating and felt.
Peter Watkins directed and, in collaboration with the cast, wrote the script for Edvard Munch, which concentrates on the man’s art and very humanity with equal effectiveness. Where it goes wrong, I believe, is in permitting the crosscutting between shots of Munch as a sick child and those of Munch as an aspiring and suffering adult to produce a certain blatancy, an overexplicitness. For, after all, there are also shots of Munch’s sister Sophie as a sick child, necessary as it is to demonstrate that Munch’s attitude toward life was formed in part by the household illnesses he grew up with. Blatancy, however, is blatancy. Sometimes the film grips too hard.
Also, notwithstanding he resembles Munch, Geir Westby is too stolid in his portrayal of the gifted painter. But I repeat: the film is fascinating (and essentially unhappy).