The Film (5/5)
I feel like a huge hole in my experience as a cinema viewer has just started to be filled in, not only had I never heard of the film Edvard Munch, but I was not aware of its director Peter Watkins. Now that he has appeared on my radar with such a marvelous film, I feel that I must now go back into his filmography, and see as much as I can of his work.
The film takes an almost avant garde docudrama style to chronicle 30 years in the life of Edvard Munch. The film depicts his post-adolescent period when Munch has just begun to paint, and get involved in the cultural movements around his city, and follows him through his career, and the reactions to his work. It also takes time to dip back into his younger years, to expose the elements of his life that may have affected his overall view of the world.
The film was shot in a style that blends documentary realism, with a staged narrative style. The camera moves in a way that could be described as hand-held with some bumpy movements, but not in shaky approach we know today. It is more in the cinema verite style of the 60's and 70's.
The film goes back and forth from showing the actors acting out their roles in a traditional manner to talking head moments where the cast talk directly to the screen as if being interviewed. Watkins also provides a voiceover narrating the events of the film. All of these elements combined create a unique and bizarre atmosphere for the drama of the piece to dwell in.
The performances in the film are subtle, and quite understated, but completely powerful, and offer a seemingly realistic portrayal of the people living at this time. Watkins actually went so far as to cast real people off the street, who took a negative reaction to Munch's work, decked them out in period garb, and captured their opinions to add a further air of realism to the film.
Edvard Munch was originally shown in 3 parts as a mini-series for Scandinavian television before being edited together for a U.S. theatrically release. It is being presented by Eureka - Masters of Cinema in a 221 minutes version that can be watched completely or in 2 parts. Edvard Munch is an absolutely tremendous piece of cinema. It has a very subtle and bleak visual style, while being playful in it's structure. It is certainly deserving of it's place in Eureka's Masters of Cinema Collection.
The Eureka Blu-ray of Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch is presented in a 1:37:1 1080p transfer that looks quite nice. It offers excellent amount of detail, this is noticeable especially in facial textures, and set decor. There are some soft moments throughout, but that should be expected considering the documentary style present in the film, and there are minor instances of damage from the source, but nothing distracting.
The audio is similarly well restored with an LPCM mono track in English and Norwegian with appropriately supplied subtitles. The dialogue and score for the film come through nicely with no complaints to be made.
The only extras present in this set are included within the 80 page booklet of liner notes. There is a self-interview with director Peter Watkins, liner notes by Joseph Gomez, and Munch timeline, and examples of Munch's artowrk.
Edvard Munch is my first film experience from director Peter Watkins, and the Eureka Blu-ray is my first time seeing this film. I will say that it is one of my favorite viewing experiences from 2016 thus far, and the year is only half over. The Blu-ray looks and sound incredible, it has some nice printed extras, but lacks otherwise in the extras department. I will say that film itself is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, The Blu-ray is RECOMMENDED.