Jessica Yu’s documentary In the Realms of the Unreal tells the story of artist Henry Darger. Born in 1892, Darger lived in Chicago and worked as a janitor for most of his life. When Darger 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.
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.
The film incorporates animation segments, using Darger’s original images.