The Power of the Counterculture


Terry Zwigoff’s rapturously received documentary portrait of Robert Crumb made one career and revived another. When his work first appeared in underground newspapers and head shops, R. Crumb embodied the power of the counterculture. A contemporary of Bob Dylan and John Lennon (and Jean-Luc Godard), he was one of the most exalted hippie heroes of the late ’60s. Crumb’s confessional comics were not only hilarious; the greatness of his drawing was apparent to anyone with eyes. The man was an obvious genius and, what’s more, he declined to sell out. Zwigoff, a longtime friend (and fellow record collector), helped put Crumb back before the public. Although Time critic Robert Hughes is recruited to establish Crumb’s bona fides. But the film’s real emphasis is on its subject’s personality—rather than his art. Crumb gets to portray himself as a cranky loner, still obsessed with the girls he knew in high school. It’s fun stuff, but the movie’s real revelations concern Crumb’s emergence, bloody but unbowed, from the emotional crucible of a monumentally disturbed nuclear family. The somewhat paltry special features consist of Zwigoff and Roger Ebert in dialogue, and a promo for Art School Confidential

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