HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Extraction
Overlanders, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  In the Realms of the Unreal Outsider Artist
Year: 2004
Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Dakota Fanning, Larry Pine, Wally Wingert, various
Genre: Documentary, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: For most of his life Henry Darger worked in a succession of lowly jobs, including janitor, and made very little contact with anybody, only counting one real friend for whole the whole of his 81 years. Born in 1892, his mother died giving birth to him and his father wasn't able to look after him, so Henry wound up in various schools where he was not a popular student, nor did he distinguish himself academically. Eventually he was taken to a school for the "feeble minded", which he tried to run away from; his childhood was not a happy one. But somehow these experiences fed into his vivid imagination, and he began to write and paint, creating incredible artwork that nobody knew about save Henry...

Writer and director Jessica Yu took a dreamlike approach to her subject, immersing the viewer in the world of Henry's mind yet still leaving him as much as a mystery as he was at the start of the film. We may understand a little more about him, but the motives and meanings behind his life's work remain deeply alien. Yu brings him to life by animating a substantial fraction of his many paintings and having extracts from both his autobiography and fifteen thousand page novel read by voiceover actors, including a then seven-year-old Dakota Fanning. In addition, there are talking heads of those who knew him, although "encountered" would be a more accurate term as there doesn't seem to be anyone who genuinely knew Henry.

Yu is apparently enchanted by Darger's work to the extent that she doesn't realise how unsettling a lot of it is. His huge novel concerns a war between child slavemasters and those who would seek to free the children. The most important of the children are seven little girls called the Vivians, who are imparted with an almost magical significance, but the pages are packed with similar little girls who are the centre of the conflict, even being tortured by the evil slavemasters who capture them. There's no sexual element to this romanticising of his heroines, indeed Henry comes across as weirdly innocent of just how odd all this is, but some of the paintings depict the girls naked and sometimes with male genitalia.

There are a few theories as to why Darger picked this landscape to illustrate, but nobody mentions the most obvious interpretation, that he strongly identified with the girls from his own childhood traumas and he was working these out in his artwork. In fact, there are no experts on hand to discuss Darger, merely those who met him such as his neighbours or landlady who offer ancedotes about overhearing Henry chatting away to himself behind the closed door of his apartment, or avoiding any meaningful conversation when pushed by talking about the weather. He simply preferred to be on his own, and as long as no one bothered him he was happy, and never happier than when he was lost in his own world. What Yu's documentary lacks is a concept of how influential the man's work has been since its discovery to put it into context, but then enigma was Darger's stock in trade. Music by Jeff Beal.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2550 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: