PictureThe film is presented here in a new director approved high-definition restoration of the longer TV version cut. I have not seen the original TV version, or any of the previously released DVD's of this film on other regions. I can only comment on the picture I saw in front of me.
The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio and the result is certainly a mixed bag. The director, as should already be clear, shot the film in a very unusual way and light is very important to the whole enterprise. The general clarity of this transfer is extremely pleasing, and for a 33 year old made for TV movie the quality is stunning.
There is a marked contrast, however, between the interior and exterior scenes. The interior scenes display a great deal of grain. After the clarity of watching modern transfers this can be quite a distraction at first, but you soon get used to it, and it gives an interesting naturalistic feel to the film.
The external shots, however, have much less evident grain, and show a pleasing depth considering the source material.
As mentioned earlier, Watkins has personally approved this transfer, which makes it obvious that this is the best it can possibly be considering the source material. In fact, Watkins very rarely gets involved in the mass market release of his work so the fact that he has been involved here is a massive coup for Eureka.
To sum up on the picture side, the transfer will not impress those who have been weaned on modern blockbusters - but that is not the audience who are likely to pick this up. If you are at all interested in this film however, then this is the best it is ever likely to look. A superb restoration.
SoundSound options are limited, but it is nice to see that the makers have not gone down the road of some false sounding multi channel remix. Instead, we get the original English / Norwegian version of the film (with the latter parts subtitled), or an English dub of the film.
I have to say that I did not watch the whole film in the dubbed version as this is not how I like to view my foreign language films. However, I did watch about half an hour of it - and whilst it is done well it is not a patch on the proper version.
As mentioned above, the original version is in Norwegian with an English narrator (Watkins himself) and some scenes in English. The sound is a very clear mix, with no hisses, crackles, or pops to be heard anywhere. The stereo separation is not great but the dialogue is crystal clear and again this is about as good as you could imagine it would sound.
ExtrasThe full release version of this will be provided with a 112 page book with a Peter Watkins self-interview, some writing by Joseph Gomez and a timeline of Munch's life. The review copy that we received did not have this included so I cannot make comment on the quality.
VerdictEdvard Munch is not an easy watch. Indeed, when it was sent to me I was not looking forward to reviewing a 4 hour biopic. However, the film is absolutely stunning. Not for everyone admittedly, but if you have even the slightest interest in film as an artistic medium, or of the process of creating art, then this is a must have release.
Presented with possibly the best transfer and sound that the film could receive at this moment in time, it is a very good thing that films like this are brought to market. I enjoyed my four hours spent with this masterpiece, and if you are open to new experiences then you need to add this to your collection.
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