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Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time

“I have written again and again about ordinary people who have tried to behave decently in an indecent society.”

Kurt Vonnegut

One of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Robert Weide and co-directed by Don Argott. Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is a comprehensive look at the life and work of a brilliant mind through the eyes of a close friend. This documentary has been a long time in the making. Weide had first approached Vonnegut back in 1989 and started filming in 1994. Audiences sees lots of now archival footage of Vonnegut out and about, launching his last novel Timequake, interviews with Vonnegut’s children and nephews and extensive footage of Vonnegut and Weide’s close friendship.

The film explores Vonnegut’s childhood in Indiana, the trauma that drove his creativity after serving in WWII, his family life, his fruitful career as a magazine writer, the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five and much more. Because the filmmaker was a close friend of Vonnegut’s this biography already comes with some bias. I don’t feel like this hurt the film because it watches as a love letter from a friend to a cultural icon than perhaps a straightforward documentary. That adds a layer that fans of Vonnegut will appreciate. It reminded a bit of Martin Scorsese’s documentary A Letter to Elia (2010).

“Vonnegut took huge social, philosophical, existential, and religious issues and filtered them through this great sense of humor, this sort of grounded, simple, Midwestern sensibility. He was a humorist in the same vein as Mark Twain.”

Robert Weide

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.

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