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Home Vision Entertainment presents
The Confessions of Robert Crumb (1987)

"We're underground cartoonists. On the surface our life appears to be really quaint andcharming. But underneath is a steaming cauldron of sexual perversion, drugs, and twistedneurosis."
- Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: February 06, 2002

Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky Crumb
Director: Robert Crumb, Colin Chase

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, sexual situations all depicted in artwork)
Run Time: 00h:55m:00s
Release Date: February 19, 2002
UPC: 037429164129
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+CB- D+

DVD Review

Comic artist Robert Crumb is a man who has inspired a lot of 'cult' worship and was one of the driving forces in independent comic publishing in the 1970s. That alone isn't particularly surprising—there always has to be an innovator somewhere—but what makes R. Crumb so unique is that he's about the most unlikely person one would ever expect to be behind any sort of revolution. On the surface, he appears rather mild-mannered and earthy, but one glance into the world of his comics unleashes quite another view of his psyche. He isn't really weird, though, he's just a normal guy who lets his abnormal side run more freely than most. I'll admit, with no shame whatsoever, R. Crumb is a bit beyond me. Not only were his classic creations like "Mr. Natural" and "Fritz The Cat" way before my time, but they also spoke to people from a distinct period of American social change. During the age of "peace, love, and rock-n-roll", Crumb's works were, metaphorically, thumbing their nose at the established conventions of comic books as vehicles for simplistic adventure stories.The Confessions of Robert Crumb is a 1987, BBC-produced documentary that dares to peek inside the world of R. Crumb, exposing the man behind the bizarre reputation. Unlike the film Crumb, which took a much deeper look into his life, Confessions is more of an extended interview in which only he and his wife Aline Kominsky participate. Indeed, Robert Crumb simply confesses all his transgressions through life and how comics are actually a sort of therapy for what he perceives to be problems in his mind. His terribly average childhood, devoid of a comfortable relationship with his parents or siblings, seems to have produced someone totally at odds with his own personality. Alas, it seems to be the same story with virtually everyone driven to some artistic endeavor. His life, despite its pitfalls, definitely produced something that changed the path of the non-commercial comic artist; his characters came busting into the world of Family Circus and Blondie like a home invasion from hell.At around 55 minutes, Confessions of Robert Crumb struck me as being much more interesting than Terry Zwigoff's Crumb. I guess that's because I think of Mr. Crumb as someone who's interesting, but not for much longer than 50 minutes. Sure, he's a bit strange, funny, and mildly perverted, but the same could easily be said of anyone who let their social graces erode. Crumb says he's just being incredibly honest, which is true, but at the same time, constantly being outside the norm basically just becomes another norm. I get the sense that after years of being told what an underground genius he is, Crumb has started, at least a little, to believe his own press. He pretends to have contempt for the whole subculture that lifted him out of obscurity, yet doesn't seem to mind the extraordinary amount of attention it gets him from, say, documentarians. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Robert Crumb does not shock me, but it appears he would like to shock most people, and he has the advantage of being able to get away with it. If he weren't such a 'cult' figure, I doubt his behavioral tendencies would get him very far these days.All this isn't to say I don't his work, I just don't find him a very interesting person for very long. So, this documentary is a great way to experience some of his eccentricities and learn about his life without investing a truckload of time and attention. Some of the strange little skits and pre-planned showcases of his homelife are humorous and obviously go a bit beyond the typical interview style. The film is intercut with material from his own comics and a variety of curious music inclusions, from Burt Bacharach to Brian Eno to obscure oldies from the early age of recorded music. Whereas Crumb was an analytical look into Crumb's childhood and family, Confessions is more casual and laid back. Neither film is technically "better" in my opinion, but it depends on your level of fanship for R. Crumb. It's certainly one of the best made-for-TV documentaries I've seen in terms of pure filmmaking.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The source material is a bit damaged and extremely grainy. This results in a transfer of lower-than-normal quality with very obvious, aggressive compression artifacts and pixelization throughout. There is also severe ghosting (leftover images from earlier frames). This doesn't really make the image unwatchable, but it is rather rough and lacks fine-tuning. The source, however, seems mostly to blame for all this. Despite those complaints, the image still represents the film without any further issues.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The sound mix is Pro-Logic Mono and handles itself very well. It's clear and crisp for the most part, and although there are some portions where it seems the microphones were a little too far from Crumb. Most of the film is interview material, but whenever the music comes in, it too sounds nice without any problems.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no supplements. The film could have used a few more chapter stops, but it's not a major issue. The menus are designed well, with the main one being animated. The keepcase insert folds out into about a 12"X18" poster of the cover art, which is drawn by Robert Crumb.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Slightly twisted and way off-center, Confessions of R. Crumb is an excellentcompanion piece to his body of work. Its short length keeps it fresh rather than goinginto too much detail, and provides a unique look at an artist who's certainly in a class ofhis own.


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