"Yes, we've heard
about the pictures!"

Brave, the Movie and
Edvard Munch's The Scream

by Eric Jacobs
In Brave, the Movie, while the music of Hard as Love is playing, the girl is vehemently making paintings on the walls of the room. The mural she conjures up shows a remarkable resemblance to the painting The Scream by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944). In this article I want to make clear that this is no coincidental resemblance. To do that I will not go into the story of Brave again, for that was discussed in issues 5 and 6. I will limit myself to the most striking similarities, so that everyone can form his own opinion.

It is director Richard Stanley who has tranformed the musical story of Brave into visual images. The final result is therefore largely his interpretation of the story. By creating the resemblance to The Scream I think that Stanley clearly shows he has a certain clear-cut view of the story. This is not just any old allusion, for the painting itself has its very own meaning, which cannot be separated from Munch as a person. The more I got absorbed in Munch's live, the more the similarities with the girl in the film grew and grew.

The starting point here is that both Munch and the girl, by means of drawing and painting, express their earlier personal experiences. Painting in that respect is both the translating of and the dealing with all kinds of emotions that are linked to these

experiences. Munch's obsession with death and illness features quite prominently in his paintings. By means of painting he tried to get a grip on his ideas about this. The painting has a similar effect on the girl. In the film we see that, when she has finished, she drops to the floor of the room looking very satisfied and exhausted: she has expressed everything in that painting. It's not until after that, that she realises what she has painted and then horror and indignation can be read in her face. Let's now take a look at ther personal experiences of them both.

Munch and the girl (at least in the film) have both gone through radical experiences in their childhood and teens. Munch to begin with lost his mother at a very early age. Then also his sister died after having been ill a long time, whereas he himself suffered

Edvard Munch, The Scream

Brave, the Movie

from tuberculosis. The girl in her youth was raped by her father. In the film the therapist also tells us that her mother has passed away. It is mainly the rape by her father that keeps haunting her. A central theme in both their lives is the battle they fight within themselves. Munch's father was a very religious man, who after a while began to suffer from religious mania. Attracted by Nietzsche's philosophical ideas, Munch himself had a very pessimistic and anti-christian attitude toward life and a great fear of life and death. He regarded life as a long Via Dolarosa which he preferred to walk in relative solitude. Fleeing from himself, his fears and life, he became addicted to alcohol and he showed suicidal tendencies. After some time madness progressively took over for Munch, and when he was 45 he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The Scream is an almost frightened expression of Munch's attitude toward life and his fear of living. We see a person holding his head and literally 'screaming it all out'.

The girl is also doing battle with herself, searching for her identity. Although important people in her surroundings (father, boyfriend, social worker) add to her mental confusion being raked up, the cause for this lies, I think, basically in herself. This is symbolised by the no-identity mask that the father, the boyfriend and the social worker are wearing. In the end she is wearing the mask herself. Besides, this also comes up when the psychiatrist, with whom the girl has a kind of session all through the film, asks who the man in the mask is. She answers: 'the man in the mirror'. A mirror is in fact something in which

you can see only yourself. Just like Munch the girl is on the run from herself and she is also to a certain extent scared of life ('I was terrified most of the time. I never got over it'). In the end this fear leads to her cutting her wrists and attempting to jump off the bridge. A final similarity between Munch and the girl is that they both feel misunderstood by the people around them, which only increases their problems. By contemporary colleagues and critics Munch was seen and described as a sickly, insane and suicidal person. Also his family had trouble understanding him. The girl asks for help and understanding several times, both from her boyfriend and the social worker. Both people cannot penetrate as far as the actual problem, so as only to make her feelings of not being understood and her problems mor intense.

Although I could go into things more thoroughly, the above is already clear enough in showing that the girl's experiences and emotions certainly share much common ground with those of Munch the painter. The described similarities make it very acceptable to me that Edvard Munch's The Scream has served as an example for the picture the girl paints on her bedroom wall. His expression of his emotions in The Scream could easily have been hers. During the time we see her doing the painting in the film, she is asking the question (which is posed by a singing Steve Hogarth): 'Have you heard about the pictures on my bedroom wall?'. My reply would be: "Yes, we've heard about the pictures!"