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In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)

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2:19 | Trailer
A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist.

Director:

Jessica Yu

Writers:

Henry Darger (writings), Jessica Yu
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Larry Pine ... Henry Darger (voice)
Dakota Fanning ... Narrator / Vivian Girls (voice)
Frier McCollister Frier McCollister ... Additional Voice (voice)
Wally Wingert ... Additional Voice (voice)
Janice Hong Janice Hong ... Additional Voice (voice)
Ruby McCollister Ruby McCollister ... Additional Voice (voice)
Paul Robert Langdon Paul Robert Langdon ... Additional Voice (voice)
Mary O'Donnell Mary O'Donnell ... Herself - Neighbor
Kiyoko Lerner Kiyoko Lerner ... Herself - Landlady
Mary Rooney Mary Rooney ... Herself - Parish Bookkeeper
David Berglund David Berglund ... Himself - Neighbor
Regina Waters Regina Waters ... Herself - Neighbor
Mark Waters Mark Waters ... Himself - Neighbor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Henry Darger Henry Darger ... Himself (photos)
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Storyline

Henry Darger worked all his life in menial jobs in Chicago. Living alone and in poverty, he had no friends or close family. Spending all his off hours alone, he whiled away the hours working on a 15,000 page illustrated novel called The Realms of the Unreal. A stunning amalgam of religious imagery, fantasy, and heroic drama, the work was only discovered after Darger was moved to a hospital during the last days of his life. Darger also wrote journals and an autobiography. The documentary uses interviews with Darger's neighbors and narration of passages from his works, along with his illustrations, to explore the mind and work of Henry Darger. Written by Ken Miller <wkmiller704@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 2008 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,477, 26 December 2004

Gross USA:

$417,120

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$417,120
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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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.
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Soundtracks

Flash Pan Hunter (Intro)
Written by Tom Waits
Used by permission of Jalma Music (ASCAP)
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User Reviews

 
A wonderful, unusual documentary, very faithful to its subject
16 August 2009 | by malsperanzaSee all my reviews

A brilliant documentary, which wisely avoids the speculations about Darger that most of the books on him are prone to. There is no *evidence* about Darger's sexuality, nor any about his psychological status. This film covers the known information about Darger thoroughly and coherently, while also capturing something of the magic of his art and his invented world. I am so tired of casual, sloppy claims made about Darger, based on nothing but the speaker's own opinions about the work. Similarly, art scholars have rarely treated Darger's work well--labeling it "outsider" or trying to fit it into the Pop movement, or something.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this film has none of that crap. Yay for no bloviating talking heads! Instead, it pieces together and interweaves Darger's biography with a sketch of the saga of his novel and the artworks that go with it.

In addition, the filmmaker has found some connections between the known facts of Darger's life and his art--the source of some of the names of recurring characters, for example. Some of the info in the film does not appear in any of the books, as far as I can tell. Good research was done here.

If I have any quibble, it's that the full story of "The Adventures of the Vivian Sisters in the Realms of the Unreal" is not clearly set forth. The story has a narrative line and many episodes. There's a geography, with city and nation names. There are numerous kinds of monsters and many side stories. This was not described as fully as I'd have liked. And a little more of the details of the art would have been nice. I imagine that rights for reproduction of the artworks in the supplemental "gallery" were restricted to just a few works. That's a shame. But at least this was not the Ken Burns blahblah treatment.


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