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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 <email@example.com>
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After Darger's death in 1973, the Lerners decided to share their discovery of his work, preserving his room and its contents.
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.
The room was dismantled in 2000.
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Innocent When You Dream (78)
Written by Tom Waits
Used by permission of Jalma Music (ASCAP) See more »
A wonderful, unusual documentary, very faithful to its subject
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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