Edvard Munch ★★★★½

Historical accounts often seem far stretched from reality. They are stories in which we read in books - only inanimate objects such as paintings, novels, sculptures, photographs, newspapers etc. - a physical bridge to a time that none of us have ever experienced. Due to this, the past often feels detached - almost imaginary. Peter Watkins' docudrama Edvard Munch, which recounts several decades in the painter's life, erases this struggle. By blending a realistic and honest account (within aesthetics and narrative) with a modern day recording and portrayal.

Watkins manages to emulate Munch's paintings onto the screen, not by aesthetic color or style, but by mood and atmosphere through the use of expressionism - best exampled in the use of characters, especially our protagonist, looking dead into the camera. The performance by Geir Westby as Munch is truly incredible as we feel him look dead into the lens, unsure whether he's looking into the depths of us, or right through us. But through this confrontational act, we feel the aching anxiety and melancholy that drove Munch's paintings, as we wind down Watkins' curated passage of a sort of fragmented, almost dreamlike, account of Munch's life.

Watkins' occasional placings of wider historical contexts - births, and deaths of not just other artists but historical figures, events that would change the course of everything, these milestone reminders are a fascinating attempt at rooting the reality of what we're being told. By being accompanied by a timeline of worldwide events we're reminded of the whirlwind of history and the dialectics of the individual and collective trauma. Yet Watkins doesn't just use these historical pinpoints to avoid over-romanticization, he also comes through with his social awareness and portrays, throughout the film, the struggles of women under the nauseating patriarchy of the time.

Edvard Munch isn't just a heartbreaking tribute to arguably one of the most important painters of the last two hundred years, it's also a poem portraying life as a tapestry of memories of the past and anxieties of the future - all woven together with no visible pattern, only the present moment.