When Barbet Schroeder (More, General Idi Amin Dada, Single White Female) began work on the movie Barfly, he had no idea that it would be such a struggle. During the seven years it took him to complete the film, he turned his cameras on its screenwriter, poet and novelist Charles Bukowski.
"I couldnt stand the thought of not being able to share the extraordinary evenings we spent together," said Schroeder. "I finally brought in a small crew, friends of mine, with a high quality video set up. Whoever was the least drunk took control of the camera."
Bukowski, legendary for his drunken excess and frank observations on life, love, and survival, took no exception with Schroeder.
Barbet Schroeder recalls, "I had no idea of what I might do with the material, but I didnt want those evenings to be lost. As I dont like formal interviews, I tried to get him started on a topic and then keep from interrupting him. The result was often a monologue of three minutes or longer."
Schroeder eventually completed The Charles Bukowski Tapes, a four-hour long study of the man and the music of his words. "The ideal way to show this material was in short video-clipsa new style of film. Once I had screened it this way, it seemed twice as powerful."
Available for the first time in the world on DVD, Barrel Entertainment is proud to present this exceptional portrait of one of Americas most vital voices.
Fifty-two clips of Charles Bukowski ranting and musing comprise Barbet Shroeders Charles Bukowski Tapes. It was, until now, a rarity that circulated amongst die-hard Bukowski fans, since the release of Shroeders Bukowski-scripted feature, Barfly. This collection of monologues, ranging in topic from Bukowskis beef with God, to biographical tales of his life as an abused child, to his views on writing as a disciplinary craft, cover the gamut of Bukowski-typical topics, which can also be glimpsed in other Bukowski documentaries, such as Born Into This. But The Charles Bukowski Tapes are set apart by their sheer volume of candid author footage, in which Bukowski has drunkenly abandoned all camera-shyness to reveal, and revel in, his damage. In one chilling segment, Hank and Linda Lee sit on the couch and seriously discuss divorce, leaving the viewer feeling as if theyve eavesdropped on a therapy session. In another, Hank takes us to his childhood home, to show us the bathroom, nicknamed "The Torture Chamber," where he was repeatedly whipped. The rawness of the tapes is refreshing but painful. This DVD package includes several segments in which Bukowski recites poems, as well as a booklet containing writing by Shroeder, an essay by Bukowski biographer, Neeli Cherkovsky, and a 1987 interview with Hank about the making of Barfly that is, of course, hilariously bitter. The Charles Bukowski Tapes allow for intimacy, making them charmed and disturbing. --Trinie Dalton