Born January 22, 1961, the late Daniel Johnston began expressing himself through art as a child while doctors struggled to accurately diagnose his unusual behavior. In addition to drawing prolifically, he began using a boombox record curiously stirring songs to cassette tape in high school. Following his brother to Texas, he eventually landed in Austin, working unskilled jobs while continuing to record and self-distribute music to friends and friendly strangers. It was clear to everyone that Daniel was not a typical artist - a disquieting innocence, with references to both light and dark spiritual forces, were evident throughout his work. It was this distinctive voice that compelled local musicians to share his art beyond Austin's city limits, culminating in respected indie musicians like Tom Waits, Beck, and Wilco to either record his songs or reach out to collaborate. Four years in the making, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON honors the complex artistry of Daniel Johnston while ...Written by
Surely this is the most moving piece of film about not just a musician but also a portrait of someone who suffers, copes and lives with depression. Cut together with home movies, family photos, concert footage and interviews old and new it tells the extraordinary life of this very talented but tortured artist. There has always been a link between madness and creativity; artists are slightly different, outsiders, free thinkers, they must be a bit mad to make the work they do. But the story of Daniel is one of actual mania, real madness, deep depression and an immense body of work from, films to music to paintings and sketches. It tells it like it is, it shows him at all times falling apart, going in and out of mental hospitals and still working prolifically. The interviews with his parents are very moving as they at times are reduced to tears and lost for words. Seeing Daniel now how he is as apposed to how he was is also a lump in the throat moment. He sits hunched over his piano, staring into space, banging out song after song and smoking cigarette after cigarette it is heartbreakingly fascinating. But putting his mental health to one side for the moment lets focus on the work, Daniel has amassed literally thousands of tapes full of songs and spoken word, he used to make so many films and has an equally large collection of drawings and art. This amount of work is what makes this documentary so good. You can tell the whole story when it has been so well documented like this from the very beginning right up to the present day every part of Daniels journey is either on tape or film whether it was documented by himself or the likes of MTV. So this portrayal is fascinating, heart-warming and sad but it shows the real genius behind Daniels music that has not only sold records on its own merit but has been covered by over 150 of the worlds top recording artists. If you don't know about Daniel Johnston isn't it about time you found out?
19 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this