In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Harry Darger

documentary | Year: 2003

Genre(s):

Directed by: Jessica Yu

Rating: Unrated | Length: 1 hr. 22 min.

Award-winning short filmmaker Jessica Yu makes her feature-length debut with In the Realms of the Unreal, a documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger. Born in 1892, Darger lived in Chicago and worked as a janitor for most of his life. When he died in 1972, his landlord found his life’s work: The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (often simply referred to as The Realms). A massive, multiple-volume fantasy novel, The Realms also contains nearly 300 illustrations of collages, drawings, and paintings. Rather than interview art scholars and psychologists, Yu chooses to look at Darger’s work from the viewpoints of those who knew him. Yu also incorporates animation segments into the documentary, using Darger’s original images. In the Realms of the Unreal was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the documentary competition.