The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

9 Jun

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a documentary about Daniel Johnston’s, an American musician and artist who became a local celebrity because of his unique sound, lyrics and art. It didn’t take long to gain (inter)national recognition after appearing on MTV. As he is a manic-depressive it has had a big impact on his career, which has had many lows.

The movie shows that Johnston already stood out when he was young and the only things which would interest him were drawing and music. He could become obsessed by a specific subject which would take over his life. One of these was a girl he fell in love with, but when it was not mutual he kept the obsession and the girl would be his muse for the rest of his life. He still writes songs inspired by her. Other things which are important to him are Casper the friendly ghost and Captain America. When he was growing up he suddenly decided to join a carnival where he was kicked out of and he ended up in Austin. He was so focussed on becoming a success that he made tapes for everyone. Without the ability to dub them he had to re-record all of his material every time. He still makes music today.

Although his music might not be something everyone will like (I don’t), this documentary manages to create a fascinating and complete image of this man. By using old tapes, video and interviews with people around him (family, friends and his old manager) this documentary manages to show how much a man can experience in his life as an artist.

Score: 8

The trailer:

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