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directed by Peter Watkins
Sweden/Norway 1974

 

Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist, the film also flashes back to the death from consumption of his mother, when he was five, his sister's death, and his near death at 13 from pulmonary disease. The film finds enduring significance in Munch's brief affair with "Mrs. Heiberg" and his participation in the society of anarchist Hans Jaeger in Christiania and later in Berlin with Strindberg. Through it all comes Munch's melancholy and his desire to render on canvas, cardboard, paper, stone, and wood his innermost feelings.

****

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.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's capsule on the Chicago Reader located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: November 12th, 1974

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DVD Comparison:

New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL

(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Masters of Cinema/Eureka
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 2:54:06 3:31:52
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.77 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

New Yorker Video

 

Bitrate:

Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51)

 

Audio English/Norwegian (Dolby Digital 2.0)

English/Norwegian (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, French, 'Full English', None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Peter Watkins Filmography
• 24-page liner notes booklet with color photos and a 'self interview' by Peter Watkins

DVD Release Date: February 21st, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema/Eureka

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 80-PAGE BOOK with a Peter Watkins self-interview, writing by Joseph Gomez, a Munch timeline, and num

 

DVD Release Date: October 22nd, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 22

 

Comments

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema: October 2007: Although we did not review the disc upon its initial release, the strong differences between the two editions warrant comparison. Firstly, there's nearly 37 minutes worth of extra footage on MoC release. The difference stems from the fact that the New Yorker release is the US theatrical version, whereas the MoC edition represents the UK television version. I do not own the New Yorker disc, nor have I ever seen the theatrical release, but I can say that the television version is an exceptional work of art. The MoC utilizes a HD transfer supervised by director Watkins that manages to both reduce the overall noise level and still maintain some of the grain structure from the 16 mm sources. However, the NY'er has much more pronounced grain and a higher bitrate making the MoC look slightly softer in a side-by-side comparison.

I can't comment on the audio of the New Yorker, but the PAL sounds uncompromised without any unwanted issues (hiss, pop etc.). As per usual, the Masters of Cinema comes with a gorgeous illustrated booklet that contains some truly invaluable material. This is a great film and with the MoC offering the longer version at a more reasonable price (about $6 USD cheaper at the writing of this review), it seems the way to go... if I was forced to choose between the two. Although, we should state they are both important packages obviously rendered with an eye for detail. Watkins works is always highly recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery and Gary Tooze

The textured grainy look is quite intentional and very accurate to the premiere broadcast appearance. This new high definition, progressive video transfer is director-approved with Watkins having a hand in production with the meticulous Oliver Groom (who brought is the loaded NY'er DVD of Watkin's Punishment Park). Audio and the optional subtitles share a similar competence and the liner notes are a valued supplement.

The film includes some very realistic shots that uncompromising editing techniques help to further its visual trance. It is a lengthy viewing, perhaps one that would have trouble supporting a full director commentary... however some films are not meant for intense scrutinization but should be allowed to wash over you with their own character and charm - this is one such piece of cinema. The NY'er DVD has our highest recommendation - a film not to missed and a digital presentation equal to its impressive passion.

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus
(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Masters of Cinema/Eureka (Spine # 51) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

MoC

Sound:

-----

Extras: MoC
Menu: Tie

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Masters of Cinema/Eureka
Region 0 - PAL

 




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   CANADA

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