This is a great film about very ordinary people trying to break out of their humdrum lives. The subjects are the type of people who once seem utterly odd, but now … less so. They are the folks who dress up in historical costumes and role play in fantasy worlds. They are members of Darkon, a live-action role-playing game that’s been continuing for 25 years. Every two weekends hundreds of Darkon enthusiasts take over parks in the DC area and stage physical battles for imaginary cells on a paper map. They use foam padded weapons with intricate rules of combat. Everyone takes the game and their roles almost creepily seriously. The elf clan speaks elfish to each other! It’s a combination of martial arts, Dungeons & Dragons, re-enactments, World of Warcraft, and a 25-year strategy board game. Sales clerks become white knights, house dads become heroes. Maybe. We follow the dreams of an upstart wannabe king as he challenges the reigning imperial army to several foam battles. It is what he lives for. The entire time this film magically transverses that very thin line between: grow up, “it’s only a game” and “all life is a game,” this too counts. The extreme dedication of these multitudes to this surrogate world is both pathetic and totally inspiring. Their enthusiasm is no more misplaced than say someone who spends years trying to put a tiny white ball in a hole in the grass. But it is a hundred times more creative. This film captures the immense passion by which these misfits pursue their vocation. It’s a great view of the human spirit. All hail Darkon!
Luke Meyer, Andrew Neel
2006, 90 minutes
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Available from Amazon