‘Revolutions of the Night: The Enigma of Henry Darger’ screens at Notting Hill Gate Picturehouse, with tickets for the Q&A on December 16th available here:
Watch ‘Revolutions of the Night: The Enigma of Henry Darger’ Trailer here:
But I have been asked to post a top 10, so here goes. Let’s see how many make the whole year top ten!
1) John Carter: Yes I know this is just me and the relatives of the cast. I love Edgar Rice Burroughs and this is an utterly faithful movie, to the books, with gorgeous effects. Why did Disney fail to merchandise and push this? I will never understand and I have high hopes that the DVD wll reach a wider audience.
2) Le Havre: It grabbed me from the first frames and said something new about emigration and life.
3) Avengers Assemble: Awesome. Utterly, utterly awesome.
4) The Cabin in the Woods: A brand new type of horror movie announced itself, in style. Every minute wowed me.
5) Moonrise Kingdom: I finally understand the point of Wes Anderson. Geeky, kooky and yummy.
6) Ill Manors: Plan B (Ben Drew) writes a love letter to those east London folk forgotten by the Olympics. Elegiac and just wonderful. Difficult to watch but terrific.
7) Prometheus: Holes in the plot aplenty but just so very gorgeous to look at.
8) The Dictator: Joyful and politically incorrect. In which I finally get the point of Sacha Baron Cohen.
9) Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene: A fantastic look at the inside of a cult. Really special.
10) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: It feels like an old movie, but it works magic.
Movies that just missed the cut:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Moved me so much. It’s a great look at an odd child. I was an odd child and this hit me, hard.
The Descendants: Okay, it’s from last year but I saw it this year and it’s such an entertaining story.
Jeff, Who Lives At Home: Susan Sarandon is just amazing. An oddball tale for outsiders.
Best documentary I saw that you haven’t seen: Revolutions of the Night: The Enigma of Henry Darger I declare an interest here. Mark Stokes has an extraordinary and unique view and eye on films about artists and, if this were a mainstream release, it would be my favourite film of the year. I am spending a lot of my own time to ensure that you see it. You will be very moved and will understand why art matters.
Sharing the tools used by art historians, a filmmaker can also delve into the past in search of clues, traces and analytical elements. The British director Mark Stokes’s movie Revolution of the Night: the Enigma of Henry Darger is a sensitive attempt to unearth the story of this major outsider art figure who was totally unknown at the time of his death. It was no easy endeavor to describe the project of an artist who died in 1973, a hospital janitor who lived for thirty years in the same rented room in a small building in Chicago, where day after day he piled up newspapers and magazines found in the street. The film revisits these places and slowly brings fully into view Darger’s colossal achievement, a literary as well as visual opus, the 15,000-page tragic story of the Vivian Girls, androgynous children who are exploited, raped and murdered, amid nightmarish natural surroundings. Stokes worked with archival footage made in Super 8, at the time when Darger died and in 1999, in Darger’s room, kept undisturbed by its sagacious owner, the artist Nathan Lerner. In both sets of footage the camera is shaky and the viewer is lost amid the proliferation of pictures, newspaper stacks and sketchbooks. The feverish images do justice to this room stuffed with a thirty-year accumulation. Through this methodical inquest the filmmaker reconstitutes, in his own way, Darger’s obsessions – Léa Bismuth
From Outtakes – David D’Arcy on film – ARTINFO.COM David D’Arcy’s Review of Chris Sullivan’s ‘Consuming Spirits’:
While watching Consuming Spirits, I was haunted by what looked like its affinities with Henry Darger (1892-1973), the janitor who lived alone in Chicago – where Sullivan lives – and wrote and drew endless sagas of interplanetary war between armies of blonde girls and murderous creatures, which he traced and pasted onto huge sheets of paper. Darger, the outsider flavor of the month in recent years, devoted what is thought to be the longest novel ever written to the same subject. Only after Darger died did his landlord who ”inherited” piles of his work know that the odd man had a creative streak, and that he spent a nightmarish childhood in state homes. (See Revolutions of the Night: The Enigma of Henry Darger, by Mark Stokes, which was at the International Festival of Films on Art [FIFA] in Montreal this March, for the latest and best cinematic treatment of Darger’s art and life.)