Brad Bernstein’s “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story”

220073_344957622257460_1444546614_othree-stars15Be forewarned, the following opening paragraphs consist of a mini-rant on the film’s title. Not interested, than by all means skip the next two paragraphs and hit the jump now to read my take on the film’s actual content. Go ahead, do it. See if I care.

Before this movie even started I had a problem with it. Obviously not with any of the content, as I haven’t yet seen any (duh), but rather with the film’s title. Seriously, 14 syllables? Whoever’s responsible for this title clearly didn’t take into consideration the headaches of the poor cinema worker given the task of positioning the title on the marque amongst other more reasonably shorter titles. In reality nobody is going to refer to this movie by its obnoxiously bloated title. Most likely they’ll refer to it as either The Tomi Ungerer Story, or its other half of the title, which is essentially just the film’s tagline anyway, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough.

As to the film’s official tagline, oh, wait a minute, surprise surprise, there is none! Imagine if this idiotic trend of plastering a tagline to the actual title were to take off. Simple to-the-point classics would have to now be referred to under their new titles such as I Hate Him! I Love Him! He’s A Scoundrel! He’s A Saint! He’s Crazy! He’s A Genius!: Citizen Kane, or Exploring the Blackness of the Subconscious Man!: Psycho. I assure you both Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles are rolling over their fat bellies somewhere in the afterworld at just the thought of this atrocious defiling of their film’s titles being made as the norm.

E08.TIFNEWShould you happen to already be a cartoonist enthusiast who choosist to view this (Quick, before you finish reading this sentence, go back and say the last seven words leading up to this parenthetical as fast as you can several times in a row. Wasn’t that fun?) who is already hip to the biographical tidbits of Ungerer, at the very least you will walk away having seen some new one-on-one footage of the man, as well as the added treat of watching his drawings become animated. Woo-hoo! But for those of you, who like myself, have never heard of Ungerer – if nothing else – you will at least walk away having had a proper Cliff Noted historical lesson on the man as well as some food for thought regarding popular and underground art and its impact on how each of the two has been both warmly and coldly received by the public.

This documentary is by no means boring, however it is not without its distracting-from-the-story faults. The traditional talking heads interviews intermingled with the animation served the focused attention on Ungerer’s story quite well, yet in an overreaching attempt to dig further into the psyche of Ungerer, and apparently not wanting to leave well enough alone, the filmmakers decided to add some extra scenes. Scenes that should have been either expanded into an entirely different and more candid movie on the man, or just left out all together. Brief scenes pop up every now and then showing the artist in a bothersome state while being filmed. Though as interesting as these shots may be, the problem is both there aren’t enough of them to justify their purpose, and the haphazardly placement of them fail to elicit any sort of desired impact whatsoever. Instead they come across as something one would find in an outtake reel. Thankfully, the addition of these scenes are the only downfall of the film – well, that and the title of course (See opening paragraph).

These above mentioned distractions aside, I’m still very glad I got to see this film. Having been armed with this tiny segment of cartoonist culture I now at least will feel a bit more confident the next time I attend an illustration exhibition and decide to partake in any conversation other than Where’s the bathroom, or Do you believe this weather we’re having?

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