Edvard Munch | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Edvard Munch 

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Made for Norwegian TV in 1974, this long but fascinating biopic by Peter Watkins mixes dramatic and documentary techniques to profile the man who painted The Scream. A documentary voice-over in English examines Munch in a calm, academic tone, observing trends in the European art world and citing notable world events to give a sense of the context. At the same time, dramatic scenes are played in subtitled Norwegian by nonprofessional actors who often stare mutely at the viewer like figures in the paintings. With fluid free-associative editing, Watkins weaves together moments from Munch's past and present as the young painter crafts his eerie domestic studies, touching on his affair with a married woman and his loss of his mother and sister to tuberculosis. Though haunting, the film is also admirably precise in its documentation of Munch's work process, with a fine tactile sense lacking in most movies about two-dimensional artists. 174 min. Gene Siskel Film Center. Reviewed this week in Section 1.

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