Director: Terry Zwigoff

Made over a period of six years, Terry Zwigoff’s film is a devastatingly honest and painfully revealing portrait of cartoonist Robert Crumb and his immediate family members who agreed to participate in the project. Zwigoff only managed to make the film because of his friendship with Crumb, who loathes the media in general and Hollywood in particular.
Although appearing to follow a straightforward documentary format with interviews and comments from ciritcs, associates and friends, Crumb is distinguished by a tangible and genuinely disturbing sense of intimacy.
Crumb’s work will be familiar to anyone remotely interested in adult or alternative comics. He established his reputation in the heady 60s as the creator of such strips as Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and Keep on Truckin’, all of which were associated with counter culture of the time. But Crumb was always an outsider and never identified with hippies. He hated the music of The Grateful Dead, preferring classical jazz, and was only interested in hippies to see if he could get any of that free love they were always talking about. In fact, Crumb seems to despise the whole culture, and his scathing misanthropic cartoon portraits are graphic depictions of his own dark psyche. As Crumb’s wife says in the film, He just depicts his id in its pure form.
Different views of Crumb’s art are voiced in the film, with some people (women in particular) attacking a perceived misogyny and racism, while art critic Robert Hughes acclaims Crumb as a contemporary Breughel or Goya. All this is overshadowed, however, by the film’s coverage of Crumb’s family background and various encounters with his two brothers. Here the film paints an appalling picture of psycho-sexual dysfunction that Robert, unlike his unfortunate brothers (one of whom has since committed suicide), was unable to handle through is art. Going way beyond the limits of an arts documentary, Crumb is probably the most exhaustive portrait of an artist ever committed to film.

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