KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME (film review by Mark R. Leeper )

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Mark Leeper

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Nov 14, 2021, 9:26:13 AM11/14/21
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In KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME, a biography of Kurt Vonnegut,
most of his early life is told mostly with home movies. Later the
narrative is composed from photos of his articles, books, first
pages of manuscripts, and footage shot by director Robert B. Weide
and others. Weide took almost forty years to make this film (he
started planning in 1982, and shooting in 1988). Weide is best
known for documentaries about famous comedians, and for the movie
and series CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.

After Vonnegut is introduced as being either insane or the only
person not insane, the documentary reverts to a more traditional
biography. His family was fairly well-to-do, but they were wiped
out by the Depression. They lost their home, and he had to leave
private school. In public school, he became immersed in pop
culture, and a fan of comedians such as Laurel and Hardy. Vonnegut
was the family comedian from when he was young, and described his
books as "screamingly funny." During World War II, he was a POW in
Dresden during the fire-bombing there. (Vonnegut claimed he
actually saw Dresden in a premonition before it happened.) He went
to work after the war for General Electric as a publicity writer,
but finally had to choose between an industrial career at GE or a
career of writing. It was not much of a fight. He quit GE and
wrote full-time.

Vonnegut seemed to live by phrases he uses repeatedly in his
writing. "Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." "So it goes."
It is not clear that they mean much beyond Vonnegut's attachment to
them.

At the end of his life, Weide says, all of Vonnegut's books were in
print. One person said of him, "Vonnegut was championed by the
people, not by the critics," although eventually he was given
critical acclaim by the literary establishment. Either way,
Vonnegut was a writer whose outlook was shaped by his fear of
failing. Some of his books made it and some did not. So it goes.

Releases theatrically 11/19/2021. Rating: high +1, or 6/10.

Film Credits:
<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1461238/reference>

What others are saying:
<https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kurt_vonnegut_unstuck_in_time>

--
Mark R. Leeper
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