Must-see video: In the Realms of the Unreal

This documentary provides probably as much of the story of outsider artist Henry Darger as you are ever likely to learn. Darger was a recluse who avoided all but a few people during his relatively long life. Upon being admitted to a hospital late in life, his life’s work, an enormous and truly unique trove of artwork and writings titled “In the Realms of the Unreal”, was discovered in his apartment by a neighbor who had been aiding in his care. What was contained in his work, the complexity of it, and his extreme antisocialism are captured in this film.

Before seeing it, I was incredulous how the life of a man of whom so little was known could provide enough substance to carry a feature-length documentary. However filmmaker Jessica Yu’s approach is utterly captivating, masterfully combining narration drawn from his writing, animated images from his paintings, and memories of the few people who knew him. The result is a remarkable tribute to a mad genius whose intense commitment to his art rivaled Van Gogh and whose reputation as an artist will surely continue to grow.

Available in Media Services. DVD 1308

Posted in Recommendations.