In the Realms of the Unreal - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Realms of the Unreal Reviews

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September 11, 2016
Fascinating look at a clearly ill person who lived a life in total seclusion and made some insane art.
May 9, 2013
amazing documentary, a must see, i loved it.
½ March 31, 2013
A fascinating examination of Henry Darger that is inventive and tells a really great story and only really stumbles when it tries to tell maybe an hour's worth of story in an hour and twenty minutes.
January 10, 2013
good interesting doc
January 7, 2013
A mentally challenged World War l veteran wrote a 15,000 page novel in his room over the course of decades. A fascinating look at "feeble-mindedness", outsider art, religion, and ignorance. Simultaneously endearing and creepy. Obsessed with young girls and children because he was severely abused as a child, he wrote and illustrated a world where the villains hate children and Christianity.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2012
Documentary on Henry Darger, the reclusive Chicago janitor who secretly wrote a slightly insane 15,000 page novel about a child slave rebellion mixing the Civil War, Christianity and children's fantasy stories, illustrated by hundreds of incredibly detailed full size paintings. A solid introduction to Darger, whose utterly unique and slightly disturbing oeuvre has made him the poster boy for the outsider artist.
November 21, 2012
It's kind of interesting, but. . .not THAT interesting.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2012
While a lot of academic talking heads analyzing Darger's work might have yielded some interesting discussion . . . his writing and paintings stand in place beyond normal criticism and analysis. They are just as enigmatic as their creator, but that is why they are so fascinating.
August 19, 2012
I was positively mesmerized for the entire 1 hour and 22 minutes. What a ride--an awesome, puzzling, fascinating ride--through someone's interior life. Darger was/is an enigma, but he was clearly incredibly gifted as an artist. Yu's tone and fanciful style was perfect for telling Darger's unusual story and presenting his fascinating writing.
½ April 25, 2012
this movie, this quite, extraordinary and extremely strange little man, will change your life. i dare you to not be moved, and a little disturbed.
November 13, 2011
The subject matter is really interesting, but this documentary really just didn't grab me like I thought it would.

It is worth watching though, so I recommend giving it a shot.
½ September 21, 2011
Definitely an interesting example of choosing an approach that fits a subject...Realms is a sad, artful, and psychedelic biography.
April 20, 2011
One of my favorite documentaries. Dakota Fanning does part of the narration here, and creates a hauntingly beautiful atmophere for this account on the bizzare artist, Henry Darger. Anyone who is interested in art whatsoever will love this or else find it slightly repulsive. I for one loved it.
½ March 27, 2011
One of the best a rarest documentary subjects I've seen. Very sad.. a little creepy but very interesting! If you like fantasy or literature, and/or have never heard of Outsider Art, or just love a good story about a rare human being...This doc is for you!
February 4, 2011
A unique Jessica Yu documentary about a unique man, Henry Darger. This reclusive, friendless, janitor and dreamer created a Homerian epic unto himself, perhaps the longest novel in history. At 15,000 pages, it chronicles the seven Vivian sisters who protect androgynous children from enslavement by evil militaristic forces. This documentary, a near-epic five years in the making, challenges you to take the perspective of Darden, who died in 1973. His cartoons, tastefully animated by Yu, appear at desktop level in his one-room Chicago living space, while the precocious voice of Dakota Fanning chirps narratives in your ears. With so little data or human testimonials on Darger, any lesser treatment would have been displeasingly far-fetched. Yu took an ingenious approach to respectfully study an enigmatic man who, although poor and shunned in life, produced acclaimed work now worth millions. AfroPixFlix, a respecter of all dreamer-janitors, forks it up 4 unreel times.
January 17, 2011
Darger is one of the most fascinating outsider-artists of America. The documentary explores the artwork thoughtfully and eerily.
½ October 28, 2010
couldn't stand dakota fanning's narration. ugh.
½ September 17, 2010
The first of a string of films about art that I've watched, this time involving what is known as "outsider art." Apparently this type of art is created without exposure and/or any type of intent response to the already established art modes of the day - essentially, art purely as a form of self-expression. Henry Darger, the subject of this film, is a man who largely spent his time alone in his little room on Webster Avenue. From 1930 to his death in 1973, he had created a world called "The Realms of the Unreal" in which all sorts of fantastic things took place.

Of course, you may be thinking that, well, any idiot can go and create a fantasy land. The thing is, these Realms of the Unreal covered 15,145 pages and reams of scroll paper in intricately designed images of children clipped out of newspapers, books, etc.

Strangely enough, I was reminded of The Wizard of Oz when I saw the stylistic drawings that he had compiled and arranged. The fantastic, colorful kingdoms as well as the battles between them, the flying creatures and the armies of children - much of it reminded me of L. Frank Baum's childlike creations. Now, I doubt that Darger gave a flying monkey's butt about Oz since he was busy doing his own thing for the most part... I'm just saying. The pictures he used he painstakingly cut out of newspapers, books, anything he could get his hands on. I am willing to bet he used an Oz book here and there for that purpose.

The fact that Henry Darger never shared this with anyone, didn't want anyone to know about his private imaginative life was to be expected. Part of me thinks that he created it all to spite the bullshit outside world. It was, after all, pretty rude to him with the infantile methods of the day to deal with "problem children." To know that he was so successfully creative, and that his work became known enough in the end that I could watch this movie, makes me happy. I now have my concrete evidence that even the most boring and overlooked people in life can still blow us all away, and that really, any one of us could harbor an epic tale of struggle and beauty tucked in our brains ready to be generated onto paper. That's the way I see it.

Although this documentary does not send me in such a way that I would hail it as an award winner, it is a great watch for anyone interested in art, children's literature, even psychology. Many people on various message boards have speculated as to whether or not Darger was autistic, seeing as he talked to himself, made random noises in class that he didn't seem to want to stop, etc etc. It certainly would explain his capacity to write such a lengthy tale so thoroughly. It doesn't really matter now, as he appeared by all accounts someone who could take care of himself. Funny how some people use the idea of children as a symbol for all that is good and right and innocent in the world (when at times they can be just as vicious as any adult). I believe that he did what he needed to do in this life. The rest of us just need to look closer.
July 19, 2010
Wow. I had heard of Darger before, but seeing this documentary that literally brings to life his artwork/novel... was almost overwhelming. It was bizarre, heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.
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