American Splendor

I checked our mail box today to find that Video Difference had sent out a postcard that is redeemable for a free rental. Nathan and I decided to go out and select a movie not long after that, likely because we needed to get out and find something new to entertain us.

We ended up bringing back American Splendor and Westworld. The latter is the film that inspired the Valley of the Giants‘ song “Westworld”. The former is a film based on the popular series of comics of the same name, American Splendor.

American Splendor was a distinctly original film. It successfully merged the real story of Harvey Pekar, his comic book representation and actors in a way that hit with realism but also was very funny.

American Splendor tells the story of an average man who collects jazz records and comic books, who has just been divorced by his second wife and works a low-paying job as a file clerk.He finds that writing about his daily struggles and observances told in comic book form strikes a chord with people, and he becomes well known in the comic book world. He finds love amid his complicated every day life, and more struggles as the story unfolds. As Harvey says, “Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff!”

This story, in synopsis form, may no seem all that appealing, but it was created with such care and attention to details that the humour,pain, love and other emotions came across very clearly, carried on the realism that permeates all the forms this story has taken. This is a story that deals with reality in a way that is at once rough and gentle. Harvey may be a cranky cat, but he also lets a compassionate side show that reveals him as not a two-dimensional character, but a very real person with flaws and gifts like the ones we all have.

I can say with no hesitation that this is one of my favourite films. It definitely is an inspiring work, and fuels an appreciation for the commonplace things we all live through with no sugar-coating.Harvey comes across as a pessimist, but his observances carry a sense of hope.This is a film that presents an honest telling of life, and is, I believe, one which will stand as one of the best films from this decade.

There is a wealth of other stories in American Splendor that aren’t told in the movie, and I’ve been able to read some of them. The movie doesn’t do full justice to the comic version of Harvey Pekar‘s life, though it is an excellent movie. I highly recommend reading the comics and checking out Harvey, Joyce and Danielle’s journals.

1 comment on “American Splendor

  1. Hi there!
    Thanks for sharing this book.
    Thought what you said about 'Q. How can a democracy function in a nation full of people who believe that their lives and their neighbour's lives are insignificant?' was also significant in regard to the entire world/planet and all of us who are so blessed to inhabit it.
    To each one of us celebrating the significance of Who We Are each and every moment so that we can truly celebrate and dance with the significance of each person, animal, plant and mineral posing as 'the other', that we interact with every day.
    Thanks, again.
    With much love,

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