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‘Crumb’: Watch the brilliant, notorious and disturbing Robert Crumb documentary
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R. Crumb
Terry Zwigoff

Note the presentation by David Lynch. Lynch actually had nothing whatsoever to do with the film, but allowed his name to be used for promotion.

The famous myth about the 1994 documentary Crumb is that director Terry Zwigoff only got Robert Crumb to agree to make it because Zwigoff threatened to kill himself if Crumb didn’t participate. This was a legendary miscommunication that stemmed from a comment made by Zwigoff describing the intense nine years of production. During that time, Zwigoff was living off of “about $200 a month and living with back pain so intense that I spent three years with a loaded gun on the pillow next to my bed, trying to get up the nerve to kill myself.” It’s from this statement that Roger Ebert clarified the film may have saved Zwigoff’s life, meaning that his obsession with completing the film might’ve tempered his suicidal impulses.

Although Zwigoff and Crumb actually were very good friends at the time the film as made (they still are and once even played in a 1920s-style string band together), it is true that Crumb was hesitant to make the film, and it’s easy to see why. While Crumb has always portrayed himself as a sort of deviant/pervert/degenerate, he is most definitely the most normal one in his family. The Crumb boys grew up with a pill-addicted mother and a violent alcoholic father. Crumb also features Robert Crumb’s brothers, Maxon and Charles and both come off like victims of parental-inflicted PTSD.

Charles—a brilliant artist in his own right and R. Crumb’s childhood artistic collaborator—identified as a pedophile, and though he never acted on his urges, he refused to leave his mother’s house. He committed suicide by overdose in 1993. Maxon Crumb is more functional, and a talented painter (as per the family genre, he portrays incredibly disturbing sexual subjects like incest and abuse). Despite his own sexual obsessions, Maxon remains celibate, as he believes sex causes him seizures, although he admits to molesting women and girls. 

In spite of all this, it’s an incredibly moving portrait of an artist—and there is grateful sense of relief at the film’s end, when R. Crumb and his family leave behind Maxon, Charles and their mother for France.

Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Crumb’ director Terry Zwigoff’s first film, ‘Louie Bluie’

movie poster
Detail from Robert Crumb’s poster for ‘Louie Bluie’
Before I even knew who R. Crumb was, I was obsessed with Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel Ghost World (I know, I know, I’m in my 20s, give me a break). As per a lot of weirdo girls my age, I read the book and watched the movie religiously, eventually looking into director Terry Zwigoff’s more famous work, his documentary Crumb, which was buttressed again by my interest in comics, and my love of Zwigoff’s tone.

The root of Crumb and Zwigoff’s friendship was actually their shared love of Americana and roots music—Zwigoff played in Crumb’s string band, R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders—so it makes sense that Zwigoff’s first project was a documentary on Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, country blues fiddler, folk artist and expert story-teller.

The movie is an absolute gem, and Armstrong’s story and music, along with Zwigoff’s genuine love of the music, really shines through.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment