Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is an intimate look at the author of some of the most influential books in American literature. Forty years in the making, the documentary chronicles the life of the author while also telling the story of the friendship he formed with the director of the film, Robert B. Weide. It is a documentary about laughter, family, bonds, and Kilgore Trout.
There is an old saying about how a person should never meet their heroes. Unstuck in Time goes against the grain. Weide was introduced to the Vonnegut’s writing in high school. He became enamored and before long was sending letters to the author. To his surprise, he received a response and the two remained in each other’s lives lasted through Vonnegut’s death in 2007.
By looking at this unique friendship, Unstuck in Time is able to give insight into Vonnegut and his impact. Through interviews and rare home movies, the documentary showcases the humor that was such a big part of Vonnegut’s life. Listening to him speak is akin to reading any of his books. He is quick to tell a funny story and is always ready to laugh. Fittingly, the end credits are a serious of scenes of Vonnegut laughing.
There is also a sadness to the film. Both Vonnegut and Weide have had to overcome tragedies in their lives. There is a healthy reservoir of material for Unstuck in Time to pull from, but the most emotionally impacting moments are not found in Vonnegut’s stories. They both deal with real life obstacles and lean on each other for support.
It is no secret that the firebombing of Dresden, Germany played a big role in Vonnegut’s life. The exploration of how he feels about the event is one of the most touching parts of Unstuck in Time. It clearly affected the author, but he tries to play it off as if it was nothing more than a moment that made for a great story. There is a despondency in his eyes that is as powerful as anything he put down in Slaughterhouse-Five.
Of course, a documentary about Kurt Vonnegut would not be complete without talk about his writing and his art. There the the obvious such as a number of passages that are read and there are more subtle moments like the camera focusing on a bird saying, “Poo-tee-weet.”
More than anything else, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is an inspirational documentary about perseverance. Vonnegut had been writing novels for over a decade before Slaughterhouse-Five was released. The book struck a chord with Americans and is still regarded by many as the greatest anti war novel ever written.
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time comes to theaters and VOD November 19
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