In the Realms of the Unreal | Chicago Reader

In the Realms of the Unreal

This 2005 documentary profiles Henry Darger, the reclusive Chicago janitor who died in 1973 and has since been acclaimed as one of the country's most important outsider artists. Filmmaker Jessica Yu got a chance to film Darger's dim, tiny apartment on Webster before it was finally emptied in 2000, and she makes liberal use of his artwork, texts, and personal items to investigate his wounded past and complicated feelings about childhood. As with many outsider artists, the lack of information about Darger is part of his mystique, and Yu often seems more interested in creating mystery than in dispelling it (periodically she edits together voice-over from witnesses saying they don't know the answer to a question or giving contradictory responses). Yet she purposely ignores the literature on Darger, which exacerbates the movie's gee-whiz assessment of his work. 82 min.

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