Best known for his painting "The Scream," Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (Westby) was one of the eminent innovators of Expressionism, and one of the most viciously attacked by philistine critics of the time. In this heady biopic, we follow the artist during the most important decade of his life (1884-1894), as he journeys from Oslo — and a family home plagued by death and illness — to fertile Berlin, where a friendship with playwright August Strindberg helps him focus on the materials that would become inherent to his notoriously dark and haunting art.
Peter Watkins's fascinating biopic about a troubled, nontraditional figure is itself iconoclastic, as it approaches telling Munch's life story through a mosaic of re-enactments, personal diary readings, and faux documentary footage, often repeated for effect. Distant from his father, Munch finds sustenance in a short-lived affair with Mrs. Heiberg (Fraas), a married woman from whom he draws inspiration. Using a variety of sound and color elements to convey Munch's state of mind, Watkins's engrossing film mirrors the inner turmoil of its talented subject.