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Realms of the Unreal

by David Sturtz

Watched In the Realms of the Unreal [Amazon], the 2004 documentary on Henry Darger the other night. Darger’s significance is hard to encapsulate. An orphaned child and quiet janitor, he left behind a 15,000 page novel with thousands of accompanying paintings and drawings describing an epic war between rebelling child slaves led by the seven Vivian Girls, and their evil Glandelinian captors. I guess you have to see it…

The film did an excellent job of tying together the few known fragments of Darger’s life from his own autobiography, the conflicting recollections of his neighbors and acquaintances, and his fictional and visual works. For each connection between his life and works that is made clearer, dozens of other questions are raised.

It’s probably not for everyone, but it does prompt you to reconsider the strangers around you, and the nature of creative force.

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