Sunday, January 23, 2005

Opinion Piece : "The Realm of The Unreal: the mystery of Henry Darger"

Directed by Jessica Yu, "The Realm of the Unreal: the mystery of Henry Darger," is a documentary on the life of Henry Darger, a janitor, who also turned out to be an artist and writer. Yu incorporates Darger's writings (from his 15,000 page novel "the Realm of the Unreal" as well as his own autobiography) with animated images of his art work to illustrate Darger's view of himself and the world that he kept at a distance. In one scene, a male voice, representing Darger, describes how he cried when he was a boy because it had stopped snowing, Yu uses one of Darger's art works of a little girl starring out the window watching the snow falling. It has been animated with the girl shown crying as the snow fall begins to stop. Images, such as these, incorporated with narrators reading Darger's words gives the film more emotional power.

Darger was viewed as being innocent, crazy, lonely, and eccentric. Though his neighbors helped him occassionally he remained a mystery to them and to us.

The film is now showing at the Westside Pavilion in West Los Angeles. The run time is 1 hr and 21 min.