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William Eggleston In the Real World

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In 1976, William Eggleston’s hallucinatory, Faulknerian images were featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s first one-man exhibition of color photographs. It is rare for an artist of such stature to allow himself to be shown as unguarded as Eggleston does in Michael Almereyda’s intimate portrait. The filmmaker tracks the photographer on trips to Kentucky, LA and NY, but gives particular attention to downtime in Memphis, Eggleston’s home base. The film shows a deep connection between Eggleston’s enigmatic personality and his groundbreaking work.

Review

"Brilliant! A remarkably intimate but also discreet portrait." -- Artforum

Special Features

  • Gallery of unpublished photos
  • Exclusive interviews with William Eggleston, William Christenberry and Walter Hopps
  • William Eggleston speaking with Stephen Shore and Glenn O’Brien at the Tokion Creativity Now Festival in October, 2005
  • Original music compositions written and performed by William Eggleston
  • US theatrical trailer
  • Bonus previews

Product Details

  • Actors: William J. Eggleston, Michael Almereyda, Winston Eggleston, Leigh Haizlip
  • Directors: Michael Almereyda
  • Writers: Michael Almereyda
  • Producers: Michael Almereyda, Alexis Zoullas, Anthony Katagas, Donald Rosenfeld, Heather Parks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CGX7GG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,966 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "William Eggleston In the Real World" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan Teder on December 7, 2007
Format: DVD
This was a film that grew on me, as it started out very boring and became more interesting as time went on. Director/Cameraman Michael Almereyda starts by following Eggleston and his assistant/son Winston as they wander around Mayfield, Kentucky on a commission from Gus Van Sant to shoot photographs. Almereyda's hand-held camera shakes and picks up the wind and all sorts of extraneous noises while Eggleston barely says anything and when he does, it needs sub-titling to help you make it out. They then make their way home to Memphis, Tennessee and stop off at a ruined house for sale by the side of the road, which is advertised as a "real fixer-upper", and suddenly you start seeing the beauty of the things that Eggleston is seeing in the damaged green roof or the patterns of sunlight on the dusty floors. Soon you are at home with him where he does some amateur improvisations on his electronic keyboard and piano.

Then he takes you along on a trip to visit his girl-friend Leigh Haslip. Eggleston has been quite happily married to his wife Rosa for 40 years, and she must just humour his occasional philandering as she later describes him and his family as "He's sweet, all the Egglestons are sweet, it's in their genes". At Haslip's house, Eggleston sketches a free-form portrait while Haslip herself rather drunkenly rambles and lounges on a couch in her pajamas. Eggleston is still not saying a lot, but you are gradually liking him more and more, as you realize this is an artist with no pretensions whatsoever. He is what he is and he does what he does and he doesn't care about having to explain himself or his work to you at all. You can take it or leave it.
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I am very biased in favor of anything that would bring the extraordinary work of Mr. Eggleston to a wider audience - still please trust me when I say that this film is a remarkable acheivement and a riveting experience and would be even if I knew nothing of Mr. Eggleston's art.

Mr. Almereyda has tricked the ultimate trickster into revealing more of himself than one might have thought possible. Not since Duchamp has anyone delivered the artistic goods with correspondingly well targeted mockery of the 'received wisdoms' of art and photography as Mr. Eggleston. He is a master of misdirection and inscrutible yet unfailingly potent verbal and visual renderings.

So when I heard that someone had set out to produce a documentary on the subject it was a little like hearing that I should step outside if I wanted to watch a neighbor catch a greased pig. I wasn't expecting we would be enjoying pork chops for dinner but I knew there would be quite a show. Mr. Almereyda's film delivers the show and the bacon.

First, the show - Mr. Eggleston's eccentric and loving world of family and friends are photogenic and interesting. They are presented as they are without much fuss and caught in media res. We begin the film by simply ambling along with Mr. Eggleston and his son Winston as they trip over pictures that suggest and offer themselves to Mr. Eggleston, falling as it were into the campfire of his vision like so many moths from the real world looking for that something more. By following this work in the field we get to see and know the craftsman in his primary state -- someone who is out in the world looking and searching still. This allows us more ease as we move into other aspects of his family life and career.
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This documentary is pretty good if you're looking to learn a little more about the man behind some of the most famous color photographs in the medium's history. However, the technical quality is horrible - make sure you have a motion sickness bag nearby because whoever was holding the video camera either drinks way too much coffee or is in early stage Parkinson's. Possibly both. There are some valuable insights into how Eggleston works. We literally watch over his shoulder as his son Winston drives us around to cafes, abandoned houses and the like and we get to see the photographer make pictures out of seemingly nothing. Far too much time was spent filming Eggleston drunk, although Almereyda may have been treating the bottle as a truth serum to (unsuccessfully) get Eggleston to loosen up about what motivates him.

The worst part of this film is Almereyda's absolutely pretentious commentary: "...unbalanced emotion poised between fear and love." Honestly, what the hell is that even supposed to mean? The film would have been better off with just wind noise and Eggleston's oft-incoherent mumbling. What we learn, ultimately, is that Eggleston resists pseudo-psychobabblicious analysis of his work; he photograph what he sees, he sees the beautiful in the everyday, and you can take it or leave it.
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Format: DVD
This is a documentary that can fool you. It starts as a seemingly rambling, shapeless portrait of the great photographer. It has dull sections, particularly early on, as we spend a lot of time watching Eggleston rambling around looking for images. Almereyda's somewhat sophomoric attempts to `explain' the meaning of Eggleston's work via narration seem shallow and silly. But then, as the film goes along, and we see more of Eggleston's images, what seemed boring earlier becomes more interesting in retrospect. When we see the finished images, the process we watched first gathers meaning. And the director's inclusion of Eggleston's withering dismissal of Almerydea's philosophizing makes us realize the filmmaker knows and accepts his own inability to define `art'. Not quite a great film, but an interestingly complicated one that's not only about a photographer, but also the process of art, the nature of trying to document that process, and the impossibility of putting a visual medium into words.
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