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In the Realms of the Unreal
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In the Realms of the Unreal (2004) More at IMDbPro »

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In the Realms of the Unreal -- A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist.

Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   1,753 votes »
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Down 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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View company contact information for In the Realms of the Unreal on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 March 2008 (Japan) See more »
Plot:
A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Whose little girl are you? See more (36 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Larry Pine ... Henry Darger (voice)

Dakota Fanning ... Narrator / Vivian Girls (voice)
Frier McCollister ... Additional Voice (voice)

Wally Wingert ... Additional Voice (voice)
Janice Hong ... Additional Voice (voice)
Ruby McCollister ... Additional Voice (voice)
Paul Robert Langdon ... Additional Voice (voice)
Mary O'Donnell ... Herself - Neighbor
Kiyoko Lerner ... Herself - Landlady
Mary Rooney ... Herself - Parish Bookkeeper
David Berglund ... Himself - Neighbor
Regina Waters ... Herself - Neighbor
Mark Waters ... Himself - Neighbor
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Henry Darger ... Himself (photos)

Directed by
Jessica Yu 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Henry Darger  writings
Jessica Yu 

Produced by
Ellin Baumel .... line producer
Karen Carter .... associate producer
Sally Jo Fifer .... executive producer
Joan Huang .... co-producer
Cara Mertes .... executive producer
Kara Vallow .... animation producer
Susan West .... producer
Jessica Yu .... producer
 
Original Music by
Jeff Beal 
 
Film Editing by
Jessica Yu 
 
Casting by
Linda Lamontagne 
 
Art Department
Henry Darger .... artwork
Eric Koenig .... storyboard artist
Aurian Redson .... storyboard artist
 
Sound Department
Jeff Beal .... sound recordist: Many Rooms Music
Stephanie Brown .... supervising sound editor
Rick Ellis .... sound recording engineer
Paul Hackner .... re-recording engineer
Matt Hedges .... sound facility coordinator
Matthew Iadarola .... sound re-recording mixer
Eddie Kim .... sound designer
Tomas Marsh .... sound recording engineer
Del Martin .... re-recording engineer
Eryne Prine .... foley supervisor
Matt Hedges .... sound editorial coordinator (uncredited)
Eryne Prine .... sound editor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Michael F. Barrow .... cinematographer: New York (as Michael Barrow)
Tim Bieber .... director of photography: Chicago
Lamar Bloodworth .... gaffer
Joe Brady .... assistant camera
Osa Elmfors .... assistant camera
Ron Forsythe .... key grip
Bill Frye .... grip
Marlene Haegele .... second assistant camera
Shana Hagan .... director of photography: Los Angeles
T.S. Hale .... grip
Russell Harper .... director of photography: Chicago
Wesley Hicks .... additional camera operator
Darren Kasmir .... gaffer
Harry Lapham .... key grip
Juliet Lofaro .... still photographer
Guy Moeller .... grip
Ryan Puckett .... grip
 
Animation Department
Andrew Brandou .... animator
Britt Ehringer .... animator
Peter Ehrlich .... animator
Matthew Gadbois .... animator
Meher Gourjian .... animator
Tom Kanchanapinyokul .... animator
Eric Koenig .... animation storyboard artist
Aurian Redson .... animation storyboard artist
David Wigforss .... animator
 
Editorial Department
Michael Mintz .... color corrector
Thom Whitehead .... on-line editor
 
Music Department
Joan Beal .... conductor: choir
 
Other crew
Bill Abrams .... legal counsel: Abrams, Garfinkel & Rosen LLP
David Beall .... cleanup artist
David Berglund .... photos of Henry Darger courtesy of
Scott Marvel Cassidy .... book art sequences
Denise Chavez .... cleanup artist
Scott Crary .... distribution assistant
Cynthia DeLaney Gorman .... marketing and sales
Jake Delman .... production assistant
Amy Dorn .... production assistant
Ron Forsythe .... researcher
Tony Haske .... production assistant
Rachel Katz-Atkin .... production assistant
Kiyoko Lerner .... Henry Darger's artwork and writings used by permission of
Kiyoko Lerner .... consultant
Kiyoko Lerner .... photos of Henry Darger courtesy of
Eric Lusk .... cleanup artist (as Erik Lusk)
Lisa Masseur .... production assistant
Mark Masseur .... production assistant
Rodd Miller .... cleanup artist
Christopher Nguyen .... production assistant
Elise Pearlstein .... researcher
Katherine Pitts .... operations manager
Larry Powell .... production assistant
Andrea Sausen .... production assistant
Kris Scheiffele .... researcher
Armando Nieto Soto III .... cleanup artist (as Armando Soto)
Joe Vaux .... cleanup artist
Chris Ware .... title art
Thom Whitehead .... digital transfers
Martin Yu .... animated website
 
Thanks
Brooke Anderson .... thanks
David Berglund .... special thanks
Karen Carter .... thanks
Loretta Jeneski .... thanks (as Loretta Janeski)
Dao Le .... thanks
Kiyoko Lerner .... special thanks
Claudine Magre .... thanks
Mary O'Donnell .... special thanks
David Obermeyer .... thanks
Mary Rooney .... special thanks
Ted Shen .... thanks
Trixie .... thanks
Marc Waters .... special thanks
Regina Waters .... special thanks
Sydney Wilkinson .... thanks
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger" - Australia (DVD title), USA (complete title)
See more »
Runtime:
81 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Certification:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Quotes:
[last lines]
[end title cards]
Title Card:After Darger's death in 1973, the Lerners decided to share their discovery of his work, preserving his room and its contents.
Title Card:Since then, Henry Darger's work has been exhibited and collected worldwide. His art has inspired the creation of paintings, poetry, music, and works in theatre, dance, and opera.
Title Card:The room was dismantled in 2000.
See more »
Soundtrack:
Innocent When You Dream (78)See more »

FAQ

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34 out of 41 people found the following review useful.
Whose little girl are you?, 17 January 2005
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS CONTENT WHICH SOME READERS MAY FIND SEXUALLY DISTRESSING.

Henry Darger (1892-1973) remains the most startling exemplar of 'outsider art': art created by an individual who has absolutely no contact with the formal art world. Darger, a native of Chicago, suffered an extremely abusive childhood ... in which he was institutionalised in an asylum for feeble-minded children, even though he may have been of above-average intelligence. He spent almost his entire adult life as a janitor in a Catholic hospital, never earning more than $25 weekly. During these decades, he obsessively attended Mass thrice daily (four times on the Sunday) and typed a 15,000-page novel which nobody has read in its entirety. (I've read four pages of the impenetrable typescript which resides at the American Museum of Folk Art: that's all I could manage.) What has brought Darger so much posthumous attention is his artwork: obsessive drawings of little girls, brightly coloured, on long sheets of butcher's paper. Many of Darger's girls (traced from better artists' work) wear elaborate frocks. Others, drawn free-hand by Darger, have bizarre animal appendages: butterfly wings, rams' horns. Speaking of appendages: many of these little girls are naked ... and they have little-boy penises. Darger's murals and his multi-volume novel document a fantasy realm in which heroic little Christian girls are eternally at war with pagan soldiers.

Jessica Yu's documentary 'In the Realms of the Unreal' (a shortened version of the title of Darger's novel) attempts to make sense of Darger's life, art and obsessions. Darger was not precisely a recluse: he appeared in public but interacted very little. Because Yu has no footage of Darger, and only a handful of photographs of him, she resorts to re-enactments. We keep hearing a male voice-over that purports to be Darger, speaking about himself. Only in the end credits do we learn that this is an actor (Larry Pine), reading fictionalised narration scripted by Yu. The immensely talented child actress Dakota Fanning also narrates: the decision to use a little girl for this task is exactly right, and Fanning reads her material splendidly ... but Yu has written text for her which sounds improbably mature from such a young narrator.

Yu interviews a surprisingly large number of the very few people who actually knew Darger. (They disagree on how to pronounce his name.) I agree with the interviewee who theorises that Darger drew penises on his little girls because he was entirely innocent (and ignorant) of the female anatomy, and he sincerely believed that little girls' sexual equipment looked like little boys'. Many of the little girls in Darger's art (and in his novel) are tortured or brutally murdered by men in military uniforms with mortarboard hats, yet it's clear that Darger's sympathies are with the little girls. He seems to be repelled, not aroused by the violence which he fictionally inflicts on them.

I thought I knew all the weird stories about Darger, but this documentary springs a new one. Apparently, when Darger was alone in his bedsit, he was overheard through the walls by his landlords and the other boarders: having loud arguments with himself, speaking in different voices and accents, sometimes in unknown languages. It wouldn't surprise me if Darger had multiple personalities. Also, I hadn't known (until I saw this film) that Darger's imaginary world was so detailed that he kept lists of the casualties on his fictional battlefields, and financial accounts of the warfare's expenses ... both of these figures exceeded the thousands of millions!

I was intrigued to learn that the Chicago-born Darger attempted to reinvent himself as Henry Dargarus, native of Brazil (where the nuts come from). This behaviour is absolutely typical of someone who experienced long-term sexual abuse in childhood, and who desires a new identity as a means to blot out those memories.

For most of his life, Darger lived in one room of the house of Nathan Lerner, an aspiring artist in his own right who ultimately made his impact in the art world as the curator of Darger's work. Lerner's widow is interviewed here. Yu mentions that the Lerners eventually subsidised Darger's rent, but doesn't mention that they later made a fortune by auctioning many of Darger's girlscapes after his death.

Filmmaker Yu scrupulously documents Darger's obsessions. One of these was for weather patterns, specifically storms. (Darger was present when a cyclone levelled an Illinois town in 1913.) Another of his obsessions was rather odder. In 1911, a five-year-old Chicago girl named Elsie Parobek was abducted and strangled; the case remains unsolved. Darger was in Chicago at the time, age 19, and he obsessed over this girl for the rest of his life. Some Dargerphiles theorise that he may have killed her. But there is no evidence for that, and Yu's film commendably sticks to the known facts.

Was Darger a paedophile? From what I've read, I believe that he was sexually aroused by little girls (and may have wanted to *be* one), but that his desire to protect girls (including Parobek) was sincere, and that he would have been genuinely repelled by the thought of sexual activity with children. We can't know for sure, but Darger was almost certainly a virgin when he died, precisely one day after his 81st birthday.

'In the Realms of the Unreal' uses several gimmicky visual devices. The decision to make animated cartoons from several Darger murals is a good one, and the stiff-legged 'lazy' animation technique used here is appropriate to the material. Less commendable is Yu's decision at several points to use new artwork that paraphrases Darger's themes; audiences will mistake these images for actual Darger artwork. I'll rate this powerful documentary 8 points out of 10.

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