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The Devil and Daniel Johnston

4.3 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

His drawings and sketches are exhibited and sold worldwide. Beck, Wilco, Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam have recorded his songs. But beneath Daniel Johnston's success as an artist and musician is an incredible story of genius touched by madness: diagnosed as manic-depressive, Johnston has spent the last three decades of his life in-and-out of mental institutions. Told through a compelling combination of interviews, home movies and performance footage, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON is "a harrowing, hilarious and ultimately moving new documentary film" (Jim Farber, New York Daily News). "****" (Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News)!

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Sundance World Premiere Featurette
  • Laurie and Daniel Reunion Featurette
  • Daniel's reunion with his high school sweetheart Laurie
  • Legendary WFMU Broadcast Featurette
  • Cinema of Daniel Johnston
  • Personal Movies of Daniel Johnston
  • Daniel's Audio Diaries
  • Personal recording of Daniel Johnston
  • Commentary with Director Jeff Feuerzeig and Producer Henry S. Rosenthal
  • Sundance Film Festival, Director's Award, Winner, 2005

Product Details

  • Actors: Daniel Johnston, Kathy McCarty, Jeff Tartakov, Gibby Haynes, Jad Fair
  • Directors: Jeff Feuerzeig
  • Writers: Jeff Feuerzeig
  • Producers: Henry S. Rosenthal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,877 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I saw this film early last spring and have been perplexed why it never showed up on Amazon's list of movies that were appearing in theaters. I found this frustrating because this is one of my favorite movies of 2006 so far and one of my favorite documentaries concerning a musical figure.

Daniel Johnston is widely known as one of the great untutored songwriters in America, extremely raw and unsophisticated while compelling and original at the same time. He is also known as an artist who has had to struggle for most of his adult life with severe mental illness. No documentary ever made allows such access to a person's psyche as this one does. Why? Beginning as a young teen Johnston began recording his own life on video and tape. There are literally thousands of cassettes that provide an unprecedented portrait of Johnston. He not only recorded his own thoughts, but would secretly tape conversations with others. It is entirely possible that we have a larger record of Johnston's life than any other public person. Drawing on these vast materials and given complete access to them by Johnston and his parents, director Jeff Feuerzeig has assembled a comprehensive, compassionate, yet disturbing portrait of a fascinating individual. The opening credits display these disturbing words by Johnston: "There is a devil, and he knows my name."

The film tells Johnston's story from his early teens to his move to Austin, Texas in his early twenties where he suffered his first mental breakdown, on to adulthood and his ongoing struggle with severe mental illness. Although he quotes his own conditions from an earlier edition of the DSM, Johnston seems to struggle with a number of psychological problems, including severe bipolarity, narcissism, and schizophrenia.
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Format: DVD
When I started watching this, I didn't really know much about it. I vaguely remember seeing a trailer for it awhile ago, but that's all. However, as the film progressed and more music samples were played, I realized that the documentary's subject, the creative but troubled Daniel Johnston, was the same Daniel Johnston who did a song that I've liked ever since high school, a song that still--over ten years later--has a place of honor on my ipod. I just never realized that the person who did that lovely ditty was a severely afflicted manic-depressive who hung out with the likes of Sonic Youth and the Butthole Surfers. His story is as amazing as it is depressing. In particular, listening to his ever-patient parents recall disturbing stories of increasingly erratic behavior as his illness progressed is absolutely heartbreaking. I think one of the aspects of the film that most resonated with me was the seemingly unconditional love they felt for a son they easily could have had institutionalized and made less burdensome to their lives. So in that sense, at least, the film does impart a more optimistic sense of filial happiness and is a testament to the strong emotional bonds between parent and child. Moreover, the documentary also serves as a showcase for Johnston's music which really does deserve a wider audience. His music and his singing voice aren't really conventional by any means, but his songs are absolutely sincere and that's more than I can say for most popular artists who are making music today.
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Format: DVD
"Art has always been inspired by beauty because art is the greatest frame of mind to express a certain feeling."

Daniel Johnston

One of the most wonderful things about being alive is; you learn something new everyday. Entire worlds exist out there that you have no clue about one day, and the next, you kind find yourself entrenched, imbedded, absorbed and overwhelmed within its confines. Such is the situation you may find yourself in after experiencing THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON, one of the most heartfelt, absorbing and amazing documentaries I have ever seen. Since seeing it, I have entered the world of Daniel Johnston and have a feeling I may never truly leave.

I was first drawn to this film by an image...a full-page ad for the movie in The Village Voice. It consisted of a primitively drawn cartoon showing a singer, guitar in hand, with his head sliced open to the elements in a clean circular cut, burst of air shooting out, performing in the center of a crowd filled with similar head-sliced-open look-alikes, all watching his performance, arms raised in concert-goer glee. Little did I know that this startling graphic screaming at me would be the first of many hundreds of like-minded images that would dance before my eyes, mind and heart (not to mention my ears) in wondrous, magical ways I almost forgot where possible.

The quizzy lay before me, begging an answer. "Who in the hell is this Daniel Johnston?" If you are like me, by the time you find out, your perceptions may never be the same about all the ingredients that constitute art, life, love, heaven, hell, right, wrong and...madness.
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The Devil and Daniel Johnston
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