The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Released 2005


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Movie Summary

Jeff Feuerzeig
The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a 2006 documentary chronicling the strange and often tortured life of the eccentric manic depressive musician and artist Daniel Johnston. Born in 1961, Daniel Johnston grew up in west Virginia obsessively documenting his own life with super-8 cameras and tape recorders from which this documentary draws much of its footage. In the late 70s he started recording songs inspired by the Beatles in which he sang and played piano and the chord-organ. His music grew a cult following after he moved to Austin Texas and began handing out tapes to everyone he met. This led to an appearance on MTV and further popularity as Kurt Cobain was often seen wearing a shirt featuring the album cover image to Johnston's 'Hi, how are you.' However Johnston's success was dampened by his increasing mental problems, as he began to believe the devil was controlling his mind and possibly the entire world. Though he ended up in a mental hospital for a time, a bidding war grew over his music and his career continued. Today Daniel Johnston is a cult hero in the art world.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 80

    The New York Times Lawrence Van Gelder

    Jeff Feuerzeig, who won the best-director award at the 2005 Sundance festival, cobbles together a moving portrait of the artist as his own ghost, using a wealth of material provide...

  • 60

    Variety Dennis Harvey

    Picture is particularly well-crafted, managing to avoid the ambulance-chasing tenor that might easily have turned this into a voyeuristic freakshow.

  • 50

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    A performer of formidable self-absorption, Johnston has inspired a film with the same trait, and the results are about what you might expect.

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Documentary, Drama


Independent, Historical, Biography