Edvard Munch (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈmʉŋk]) is a 1974 biographical film about the NorwegianExpressionistpainterEdvard Munch, written and directed by Peter Watkins. It was originally created as a three-part miniseries co-produced by the Norwegian and Swedish state television networks NRK and SVT, but subsequently gained an American theatrical release in a three-hour version in 1976. The film covers about thirty years of Munch's life, focusing on the influences that shaped his art, particularly the prevalence of disease and death in his family and his youthful affair with a married woman. The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn't entered into the main competition.
Like Watkins' other films, Edvard Munch uses a docudrama approach; scenes from Munch's life are re-enacted by a large cast (mostly Norwegian non-professional actors), but there is also a voiceover narration by Watkins, and there are moments when the characters speak directly to camera, as if being interviewed about their own lives or their opinions of Munch. Some of the dialogue was improvised by the cast, especially in the interview segments. To convey the hostile response Munch's work often received during his lifetime, Watkins recruited Norwegians who genuinely disliked the paintings.
After its initial broadcast, the film was briefly an international success but was not widely available for many years afterward. Watkins has said that network officials tried to suppress its distribution, and tried to bar it from competition in the Cannes Film Festival, because they disapproved of its use of non-professional actors and anachronistic dialogue. After NRK relinquished rights to the film in 2002, it gained a wider international release.