“He was not shuddering anymore. He did not feel alone in the darkness and the smoke. He felt relief, as if the coming of Heaven itself. He felt he belonged to them and they to him, that all shared the same life, that the boy and girl comrades were nearer and dearer to each other than even lovers. He could bury his face in any of them. In those voices their words that had finally saved him and which would stand by him.”

“They have been my companions. They are part of myself, those pictures, long before I knew them I had been such a lonely little boy.”

“I wish to be young always.”

Henry Darger was an eccentric artist who died in 1973 at the age of 80. Just before his death, his landlords came into his apartment to help care for him and were astounded by the fantastic art and writing they discovered. No one had known that Henry, beyond working menial jobs at a Catholic hospital, had spent his days and nights deeply adventuring in an imaginary inner life which he painstakingly poured into extraordinary works of art and writing.

Director Jessica Yu created a beautiful documentary capturing Henry’s enigmatic life and art world. He was a man that had slipped through life alone, in poverty, and haunted by his constant struggle with God, his faith, and his difficult and lonesome childhood.

The documentary is incredibly moving. I was tearing towards the end. Henry’s personality reminded me of Stéphane’s from Michael Gondry’s The Science of Sleep. I kept thinking of that movie as I watched it. Both Stéphane and Henry lived intensley artistic lives that fused fantasy and reality, and both were social outcasts.

Unlike Stéphane, Henry had no playmates or love in his life. He was a pure soul whose only companions were the characters in his art. He drew, collaged, traced, and painted his social existence.

The Realms of the Unreal was the title of his 15,000 page, illustrated book.

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