True Films

In the Realms of the Unreal


A poor old man lives 50 years as an absolute recluse without a single friend or family. He speaks to no one; he talks only to himself in his room. Using different voices, he acts out his rage at the mistreatment he experienced growing up in orphanages and institutions for the mentally handicapped. When he finally leaves his room to die in a hospital (where he once worked as a janitor), his landlords discover in his room the longest novel ever written — a towering stack of 15,000 pages. His tale recounts an imaginary, nearly endless series of battles between evil adults who wage war against innocent children — specifically, seven angelic sisters. Despite its stupendous length, this story and the man’s life would have been utterly forgotten except for one amazing wrinkle. The man, Henry, painted hundreds of scenes from his ‘realms of the unreal’ on long scrolls in amazing detail. His paintings were immediately recognized as a work of art. He had gift: an exquisite sense of color, an eye for composition, and a true artist’s vision. There was a touch of genius in him, one that not a single other human had ever known about. The one or two others who had any contact with him were shocked. This clever films manages to digitaly animate Darger’s scrolls so their enhanced scenes represent the battles which consumed Darger, and through his zany colorful images you enter into his strange world, which he spent 50 years building in complete secrecy. His is not a welcoming world, born out of the pain of his own history; it’s truly weird. But instead of spending 50 years in his room consuming TV, he spent 50 years producing his own fantasy, in great curious detail, and for that achievement, he deserves this worthwhile journey into his world and back.

— KK

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In the Realms of the Unreal
Direct by Jessica Yu
2005, 82 min.
$20, DVD

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

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Posted April 5, 2006 at 5:00 am | comments


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