This is a truly fascinating and entertaining DVD documentary focusing on writer Harlan Ellison (originally produced/directed by Erik Nelson in 2008 a couple years after Harlan Ellison had won the 'Grand Master' Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Ellison unfortunately recently passed a couple years ago (circa 2018.) Erik Nelson's documentary gives great insight into the iconic speculative fiction rebel-writer who (as many have said before) was one of the unique few who could raise the act of belligerence to the rarefied heights of performance art in his prolific fiction writing, cogent essays on movies, TV and other cultural trends, and of course scorching interviews and talent locating writing-workshops.
In this documentary, many other successfully imaginative 'creators' like Neil Gaiman, Ronald D. Moore, Peter David, Dan Simmons, Josh Olson and especially Robin Williams (Ellison's close friend for many years) attest to how much Ellison made an indelible impression = his quick-wit and incendiary writing style influencing & amazing many (Richard Thompson founder of Fairport Convention provides a fantastically inventive Musical Score!)
For those not familiar with Harlan Ellison's classic speculative fiction book compilations/anthologies, award winning short-stories and novellas and numerous cogently critical essays, you might have at least been aware that he had written the teleplay for what many consider to be the single finest episode of Classic Star Trek, from the first season titled: 'City on the Edge of Forever' (voted as Best, in many SF fan polls), or you might have seen his name listed as a 'story consultant/advisor' on the series 'Babylon 5' or 1985 revitalized 'Twilight Zone'
For a time Ellison was certainly one of the most brilliant & imaginative writers associated with the Science Fiction (his preferred term 'Speculative Fiction') New Wave, from about the mid-late sixties onward (also including Robert Silverberg, Michael Moorcock and J. G. Ballard from England, Ursula K. Le Guin and others).
Ellison's inherent rebelliousness, and constant striving for 'integrity' with regards to preserving an artist/ author's original vision, put him at odds with Hollywood producers (even though he had great early success there with the aforementioned Star Trek, and many other highly acclaimed episodes of other futuristic/ speculative series, especially the exceptionally fine, and incredibly original (for their time) Outer Limits Episodes: 'Demon with a Glass Hand' and 'Soldier'. I was either too young, or not even born when these Classic series were first-run (but have seen them subsequently in re-runs, or on DVD and was amazed at both the high quality of script writing, and even more so by the sheer imaginative power behind them! Ellison came back to Hollywood (briefly) in the mid-1980's to re-launch the 'Twilight Zone' (the show of course, originally created by Rod Serling.) Ellison created/ wrote the new 1980's version parameters/ guidelines, i.e. show 'bible' and was integral to its successful (at least initially) re-launch, and even wrote a number of the best first-season episodes (but alas, another controversy and battle with Network censors over writer's original story 'integrity' caused him to resign, mid-way and the show lost some of its kinetic energy and momentum after that although it did hang on another season and a little more in syndication).
The mid-1970s film, 'A Boy and His Dog' (about after-effects of devastating Nuclear War), was also based on an award winning Ellison story, another controversial but immensely interesting film hampered a bit by an ultra-low budget - a follow-up for main characters Vic & Blood has also been done in 'Graphic novel' form.
But the bulk of Harlan Ellison's genius was exhibited thru his brilliant & masterful book writing (mostly his imaginative & insightful short stories, that have won numerous prestigious awards), and also by way of his ground-breaking work as an editor of the watershed speculative story anthologies (that broke much new ground, at the time): 'Dangerous Visions; and 'Again, Dangerous Visions' and perpetually 'in the works' D-Visions 3 that was never released in Ellison's lifetime. He also produced very fine critique/commentary on popular culture, Movies, and Television. But, most unfortunately, for many years, much of the evidence of his certified 'genius' was out-of-print.
Thankfully, over the last 10 years or so much has become available again. The two Dangerous Visions collections are worth the price just for Ellison's cogent and thoroughly entertaining (and often insightful) essays introducing each of the selected stories describing the eccentric & imaginative authors who created them.
Ellison's, original story collections like "Deathbird Stories' 'Shatterday' 'Angry Candy' 'Slippage' are also must reads.
If you are currently unfamiliar with Ellison's Works, watch this fantastic DVD first = it will be a good initial guide to Harlan Ellison's Best output and his inimitably irascible yet exceedingly entertaining personality appreciated especially by hyper-imaginative speculative fiction fans while he briefly inhabited our pale blue Earth.
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