The Passion of Marie: on the Brink
The drama film directed by the Danish Bille August is dedicated to the period of Marie Krøyer's life, when she was married to the most famous and respected artist of Denmark, Peder Severin Krøyer. Certainly, this is not her whole life, but only its part, which brought Marie her fame. It was a tiring and painful fame, because they knew about her and spoke of her as a wonderful model for her husband’s best paintings. And Marie gradually refused from her artistic ambitions and her dreams to become famous someday.
Director Bille August received his awards at the Cannes Film Festival twice, one Oscar and many more awards at other festivals. Distributors around the world did not miss the chance to mention this in their trailers and on the posters for The Passion of Marie (the original name of the film is Marie Krøyer). But this film does not belong to festival masterpieces. A gloomy and hopeless biographical story, almost all played in a whisper, still remains a classic costume movie.
A still from the movie: Marie, Søren and their daughter Vibeke
The story of love and the first cloudless years of marriage between Marie and Søren (as friends called Krøyer) was left behind the scenes. The film begins immediately at the time when everything is already bad. Søren is famous, rich, his exhibitions are held with constant success. And while he cheerfully finishes a new canvas with bathers, Marie takes great pains over her tiny still life that will never be finished. All her powers go to other things. Already having the similar experience, both Marie and her and Søren's daughter, and even their close friends, are apprehensively eyeing the artist’s excited turmoil. Krøyer has a mental disorder, and another seizure can begin at any time. This intense expectation is conveyed to the viewer: you involuntarily look for signs of an impending catastrophe behind each his line until the coffin with Krøyer's body sinks into a pit filled with rainwater.
A still from the movie
A still from the movie: Krøyer in a psychiatric hospital
The Passion of Marie mercilessly tests the thesis that the facts of the artist’s personal life should not affect the impassive assessment of his work. What if he tried to strangle his wife? What if he made his daughter drag a shot game in her teeth like a hound? What if he pointed a loaded gun at both of them? What can a genius be forgiven and what a husband can forgive? Do these little domestic acts deprive the unique northern light in the Krøyer's paintings of their fantastic charm?
The film was shot in Skagen, the fishing village where Krøyer lived and where all the important Danish and Swedish artists gathered to fish, paint nature, communicate a lot and celebrate at the big table. This is the northernmost point of Denmark, and the cold, thick, sound blue colour of the sea and sky, glorified by Krøyer so much, is believed to be there indeed sometimes. Because the director and cameraman of The Passion of Marie failed to catch it. Either the artist’s eyesight was particularly sensitive, or he invented it. Just like his own wife and his own happiness.