Morlang (2001)

“Don’t feel guilty.”

Julius Morlang (Paul Freeman) is a narcissistic artist whose star is waning in the psychological drama Morlang. Fast approaching old age, Morlang is told to try and find new forms of expression, and he sees his latest painting shoved aside for the work of a new, upcoming talent, artist Robert Jansen (Marcel Faber). To complicate matters, Morlang’s wife Ellen (Diana Kent) is asked by Jansen to manage his career, and she’s excited by the prospect. At an art show, Morlang seethes with rage, jealousy and envy at Jansen’s success, but according to Ellen, Morlang is emotionally unfathomable.

Morlang’s tale is told in fragmented flashbacks, and when the film begins, it’s two years later–Ellen is dead, and Julius is now living in Ireland with author Ann (Susan Lynch). The flashbacks begin when Julius receives a telephone message from his dead wife. His remote home is burglarized, and a cryptic note and photograph left behind by the intruder. The mystery of exactly what happened between Morlang and Ellen is revealed via an old grainy videotape, Morlang’s memories, and the footage from a surveillance camera.

Morlang, directed by Tjebbo Penning and loosely based on a true story, presents a fascinating look at an artist who uses the women in his life as his muses to salvage his creative process and his dying career. The camera is put to extremely clever use here as the tale weaves back and forth in time, and in several scenes the leap back in time is virtually seamless. In one shot for example, Morlang and his wife exit the door of their Irish home, and then Ann steps back into the house through the same door. These camera shots effectively kaleidoscope time and simultaneously emphasize that past events sometimes remain in the present. As an added bonus, the footage of the Irish coast is spectacular. Morlang is from the Global Film Series, and it’s a film series well-worth looking for.

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2 Comments

Filed under Drama

2 responses to “Morlang (2001)

  1. Lisa

    Jealousy, betrayal and revenge. Jealous of the new artist his wife had taken an interest in, the betrayal he felt by his wife and the gallery owner and last the ultimate revenge that he played against his 1st wife and the young artist. I was horrified by what the character Julius Morlang had done. The final insult to my senses was the renewed fame Julius Morlang experience using his dead wife as his muse. This film was superb.

    However, I have yet to discover what true life events lead to this movie.

    • “For his debut feature Penning found himself intrigued by a television interview: ‘a couple
      announced during an interview that they were going to commit suicide. I then saw another
      interview a few months later, after the woman had killed herself, but the man was still alive.
      He had had no intention of killing himself. And I thought that the biggest shock for anyone
      would be that someone you have been married to for so many years is not who you think they
      are. Looking at the first interview again, she must have trusted him so much. And what if
      she had found out before she died what was happening? What a huge, huge shock that would
      be’.” (Copied from the Film Movement Site)

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