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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars walking the cow
This is one of the most exhaustive and insightful documentaries you'll ever see. It works impeccably well as both a study of the origins and trajectory of a remarkable songwriting career, and as a stark portrayal of the suffering caused by serious mental illness. These two strands run beautifully in parallel through the film.

As a passionate fan of Johnston's...
Published on 15 Nov 2006 by patrick o'leary

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Could've Been Musical Genious? I Don't Think So!
I decieded to rent The Devil & Daniel Johnston purely because I was going through an obsessive Kurt Cobain phase & after seeing a trailer for the movie & the mere mention of Cobain I went straight down to Xtra-Vision & got it out.
Presuming you've read them movie synopsis, I'll go on to critique.
A quirky, insightful documentary of a could've been, while I don't...
Published on 10 Oct 2008 by Claire Frances


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars walking the cow, 15 Nov 2006
By 
patrick o'leary (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the most exhaustive and insightful documentaries you'll ever see. It works impeccably well as both a study of the origins and trajectory of a remarkable songwriting career, and as a stark portrayal of the suffering caused by serious mental illness. These two strands run beautifully in parallel through the film.

As a passionate fan of Johnston's music (and a keen admirer of his art), I was always going to find this fascinating but it should offer much for those who are unfamiliar with his work. The detail provided by Feuerzeig (a self-confessed fan) might be tiresome for some but it would be hard to discount the moments of sadness, humour, shock, disgust, disbelief and awe permeating this work.

The level of sympathy and respect for Johnston will vary amongst viewers but after seeing this I have even more love for the man.

The thoughts of the various contributors, particularly of course his parents, are never less than compelling.

Johnston's own home video footage is used to great effect, as is other input, including the MTV Cutting Edge clips.

The DVD itself is really well presented (great Daniel drawing on the cover of course) and the extras are nice though less thorough than they could have been. The reunion with beautiful muse Laurie, as mentioned by a previous reviewer, will definitely break your heart.

Overall, this is an amazing insight into the mind and life of a ridiculously talented and inspirational man.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Viewing, 3 Sep 2006
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
I started trying to write a proper, conventional review for this film, but the more I tried the more I realised it really isn't necessary. All you need to know is that, if you have even a passing interest in Daniel Johnston, you need to see this. All credit goes to the film-makers who researched their subject as thoroughly as is deserved of a man like Daniel. The film covers all aspects of his life so far, and deals with his condition sensitively yet still isn't afraid to state the raw facts and include a few quite shocking stories and clips. The Devil and Daniel Johnston overall manages to be at times warm and hilarious, at times chilling and heart-breaking, but always engaging and a real step-up from a few other musician related DVDs I've seen recently. Like I say, if you're even slightly curious about the man, you HAVE to watch this film.

Another very interesting feature is one of the Extras on the disc, which shows Daniel being reunited with Laurie at the SXSW showing of his film, and if that doesn't really grab you reading this now, by the time you've finished the film you'll be frantically navigating your way around the DVD menu so you can watch it for yourself.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unprecedentedly intimate look at creative genius and mental illness, 27 Dec 2006
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
I don't know who will be more enthralled by this documentary film - long-time fans of Daniel Johnston or those being exposed for the first time to his tragic genius. I can only speak for the latter, a brand new fan who has found what I consider to be a kindred spirit. The Devil and Daniel Johnston may sound like some kind of Faustian melodrama, but it is in fact a searingly honest and unabashedly intimate look inside the mind of a tortured genius, a chronicle of madness examining Daniel Johnston's life-long internal war between self-accomplishment and self-defeat. Famed for his art as well as his music, Daniel Johnston has lived a life of almost mythic ups and downs, and his story is equally inspirational and heartbreaking. Some folks won't connect with his art or his folk-based songs, but I don't think anyone can watch this film without being moved by the man's emotional story.

From childhood, Johnston was an iconoclastic individual dedicated to art and music, surrounding himself with comic books and musical paraphernalia, including his own music studio with a piano and boom boxes. It was here in his basement (and later the homes of both his brother and his sister) that he recorded his first songs for a cottage industry of self-made tapes that would serve as his foot in the door to a musical career. Johnston taped more than just his music, however. From 8mm movies made with his brother to audio letters to friends and associates to recordings of his mother haranguing him to home video of his early days in the Austin music scene, an almost unprecedented wealth of personal material was available for this illuminating documentary, including films of the inspirational girl who got away (and married a mortician, appropriately enough for this story). His early songs are about as raw as they come. Like a Bob Dylan, Johnston doesn't have what you would call a pretty voice; he also is far from a master of guitar. The passion of his music, though, is of the rarest kind, making it easy to see why he became such a cult icon. This is extraordinary, soul-baring music.

What makes Johnston's art and music especially poignant, however, is the history of mental illness that shapes it so powerfully. A manic-depressive (I guess you're supposed to refer to it as a bipolar disorder these days) with delusions and a sometimes debilitating obsession with Satan, Johnston has hit many lows in his life, many of which came in the immediate wake of great success. He has, among other things, wandered off by himself in New York City, proselytized crowds with the imminent threat of demonic assaults, attacked his manager with a lead pipe, caused a plane crash he and his father were lucky to survive, compelled an elderly woman to jump from her second story window and break both her ankles, and walked away from a dreamy recording contract with Elektra because he feared that the guys from Metallica would, for their own Satanic purposes, murder him. As you would expect, he has spent considerable time in mental institutions over the years.

What is most inspirational, besides Johnston's ability to come back and continue with his music and art after walking through so many emotional minefields, is the love and support of his family, especially his parents. Basically unable to get along on his own, Johnston now lives with his parents; the effects of all his medication have obviously affected his physical health and his voice, but the genius is still there. Thanks to good friends (including the long-time manager he fired for no good reason), his early music was never forgotten, and he is still producing new songs and drawings - and even touring internationally to a limited extent. Large numbers of his songs have been recorded by a myriad of artists, including Pearl Jam, Gordan Gano, Beck, and Sonic Youth, and this film is sure to bring new fans into his fold. Success has always been a double-edged sword for Johnston, but hopefully it will help provide the means for his care after his aging parents are gone.

Forget about music and art for a minute. The Devil and Daniel Johnston is one of the most intimate looks at mental illness you will ever find, as few individuals have documented their entire lives to such an extent as Johnston has. We get to see and hear many of the pivotal events that shaped his entire life, from childhood to the present day. That makes this film an utterly fascinating psychological case study, no matter what you think of the man's artwork and music.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 19 April 2007
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
The Devil and Daniel johnston is a wonderful film. I'd never heard of him before seeing it, and first impressions were strangely deceptive. The DVD menu features a short clip of Johnston performing one of his songs, and it sounds absolutely dreadful. However, when you start to watch the film which draws on family member and friend interviews as well as old super-8 films Johnston made as a child, a bizarre genius starts to reveal itself. Later on, when the footage from the DVD menu is shown again, it seems great rather than the dirge it seemed before. Johnston is not a great singer, nor is he a particularly skilled musician, but what stands out from his music is powerful emotion. Every line he sings is dripping with it, so much so that you cannot fail to be moved. The child-like vocals and heartfelt lyrics seem to come from deep inside his soul, and it's impossible not to be impressed by the original world of music and art that he has created around himself. It's a deeply sad story with it's tales of mental illness, but ultimately it's enriching and very entertaining. I recommend this film to everyone. If you like film documentaries, or are passionate about music, you should not miss the opportunity to see it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 30 April 2011
If you're a fan of Daniel Johnston you'll absolutely love this, if you're not a fan of Daniel Johnston you'll probably find this bizarre and unappealing. Personally, he's one of my favorite musicians and this film is amazing. Really captures his kindred nature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 24 May 2008
By 
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
Exhaustive (and exhausting) intimate biography of a relatively obscure American alternative performer/artist. Daniel Johnston's music may well initially repel (it did me) but you too may eventually succumb to his oddly innocent yet passionate contribution, which seems to have been overlooked by the mainstream music world - but not by numerous signficant alt bands, many of whom have actually covered his material.

The DVD is both funny and startling. There are so many incredible characters and events in the telling of his story and it would probably be misleading to highlight any BUT... how many singers have two labels proffering multi-album deals to someone who is in a secure mental institution?

This DVD is tough going at times - but unmissable to anyone interested in a figure that ranks highly in an alternative music culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, 30 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
Great movie, excellent dvd!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Is Daniel Johnston?, 12 April 2007
By 
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
Who is Daniel Johnston? Well I didn't know before watching this documentary either but having done so I am now a convert to the cult that is Daniel Johnston; the man, his music and his art.

The documentary is a fascinating insight into the uncertain link between madness and creativity, nature and nurture and voyeurism and concern. Most viewers will I'm sure be immediately charmed by the naivety and enthusiasm of the young artist (especially during his solitary MTV performance) and then equally shocked by the shambling and rather sad figure he has become today following decades of struggles with his inner demons and the effects of stabilising medication.

The story of his life is one that fascinates from beginning to end and leaves you with a fondness for the man and a desperate desire to explore his music and his art. The use of archive footage of Daniel and his family and friends makes the film that much more enjoyable and the inclusion of snippets of his art and music are tantalising. Ultimately the film leaves you content that the man has survived everything that life has thrown at him and has come out the other side alive and still creative.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for the Crazy People, 30 Aug 2006
By 
Mr. Dj Clarke "Vindictive736" (Fulhan B-Way) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
Just saw this movie and was blown away by how much of a genius and an asshole this guy is.

You'll be shocked, you'll cry, you'll love him...God bless him and his long suffering parents...(never get into a plane with him).

They say genius and madness are never far apart, and this movie will prove that.

Personally I think he should run the country.

Watch and be amazed!!1
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Could've Been Musical Genious? I Don't Think So!, 10 Oct 2008
By 
Claire Frances (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] (DVD)
I decieded to rent The Devil & Daniel Johnston purely because I was going through an obsessive Kurt Cobain phase & after seeing a trailer for the movie & the mere mention of Cobain I went straight down to Xtra-Vision & got it out.
Presuming you've read them movie synopsis, I'll go on to critique.
A quirky, insightful documentary of a could've been, while I don't believe he could have been particularly great having purchased listened to his music. In other words if Johnston hadn't had so many high profile celebrity fans, or even Cobain wearing a band-tee of Johnston's, this documentray would have never come about.
If you are a fan of Johnston's music or even just documentary's this is a good indie type that you might find interesting.
A good documentary, but I did wonder what the big fuss over Johnston was about, his music isn't that good.
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The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD]
The Devil and Daniel Johnston [DVD] by Jeff Feuerzeig (DVD - 2006)
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