Darger Biopic Excoriated

Ted Goranson writes scathingly about In the Realms of the Unreal, a film about the outsider artist Henry Darger. Didn't see the film; sounds like yet another botched attempt to explain visual art and artists.

But gosh this filmmaker makes so many bad choices. Although the story has no explicit sexual flavor, it is quite close to perverse. My own view is that the world and the girls as [Darger] imagined them were tokens of otherworldliness so abstract and pure that they need to be admired for the clean purity. Having Dakota Fanning narrate as one of the Vivian Girls, and with practiced childishness, tips the balance from abstract to absolutely dangerous. A big mistake. The fellow that narrates Darger's inner voice is profoundly wrong too. A narrator could work. Animating the drawings could work. But gosh, either you need to fully buy into the world and enter it as Darger would, or you have to set a platform in between him and us that has some solidity. We have to know who and where we are. This filmmaker does not do that, skipping from place to place with no anchor, no coherence. If the man is about anything, it is coherence.

Goranson also questions the documentary's lack of objectivity:

It would have been good to know that some of the "witnesses" here basically stole the man's legacy and became wealthy as a result. Their recall is colored by some pretty crass motives.

Don't know about "stole" and "wealthy" (a little research is needed here) but this is a fair question to raise. Posthumous spin is part of an artist's story and you can't get any distance on that if you handle your sources with kid gloves, no pun intended.