In the Realms of the Unreal

Genre:  Documentary
Running Time:  81 min.
Release Date: January 28, 2005
DVD: July 5, 2005

Current rating: Rating: 3.98
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Cast: Dakota Fanning, Larry Pine


In 1973, at a Catholic poor house in Chicago, an 81-year-old retired janitor quietly died. His name was Henry Darger. Just months earlier, he had moved from the rented room where he had lived for over 40 years. When his landlords, Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner, cleaned out the clutter room, they discovered paintings: hundreds of brilliant watercolors, some over 10 feet long. The images were disturbing and mysteriously beautiful: little girls frolicking under stormy skies, little girls fighting soldiers, little girls being rescued by fantastic winged creatures. In many images, the girls were drawn naked, with male genitals.

The landlords soon found the other half of Darger's life's work, perhaps the longest novel ever written: the more than 15,000 page, single-spaced typed "In the Realms of the Unreal," an epic story of the virtuous Vivian girls and their religious war against the evil Glandelinian army. For most of his life, Henry Darger, a recluse whom others called crazy, had lived in this rich fantasy world. It was a world he had kept to himself. Today, Henry Darger is considered to be one of America's foremost outsider artists: an untaught artist working in isolation from the commercial or public eye.

Director: Jessica Yu
Studio: Mongrel Media
Producer(s): Cheryl Tiegs
Screenplay: Jessica Yu
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