Francis Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1 December 1979)’s foundation text was Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ novella of 1902. Many poems have inspired The Fugitive Stag but in a real sense its foundation consists of a half a millennia old German or Belgian stag carving and a late C.19th painting by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, entitled ‘Madonna’ (1894/95), also entitled ‘ ‘The Lady,’ ‘Loving Woman.’
Munch’s Madonna is one of the most spectacular Madonna’s of the modern era – a sexualized Madonna. This is Madonna as Munch’s redefinition of femininity projected onto the realm of the divine – the very opposite of a patriarchal longing for a return to the idealization of womanhood.
One of the most important and best-known motifs of Munch’s oeuvre, ‘Madonna’ was at the centre of his “Frieze of Life” series. The motif exists in several versions and originally bore the title ‘Woman making Love’. The painting was first displayed in a frame decorated with sperm cells and a foetus.
Who would have thought that a carving depicting a Christian saint’s conversion – his name was St Hubert – would join one of the most iconic ‘Goddess’ paintings of the late nineteenth century, in providing the foundation for an epic adventure story in the early 21st century!
Munch’s painting provides the central motif or thread that runs through the ‘fugitive stag’ – the flesh, the hair, the Look or Gaze, sensuality, femininity etc, uniting in herself the different faces of Goddess, the Eternal Feminine.