Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story | Chicago Reader

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98 minutes · 2013

Animation is becoming more and more common in documentaries, but it's well-suited to this 2012 profile of French writer and illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Inspired by New Yorker artist Saul Steinberg, Ungerer learned to express complicated ideas in minimalist cartoons, and beginning in 1957 he enjoyed an extraordinary career in children's publishing. But in the late 60s he began branching out into left-wing agitprop and then wild erotica; the latter alienated educators and librarians, and after a public clash at an American Library Association convention, he was run out of the business. Director Brad Bernstein wisely keeps the circle of talking heads small, focusing in particular on two of Ungerer's most gifted admirers, Maurice Sendak and Jules Feiffer. Their understanding of his creative journey colors the story; as Sendak notes, Ungerer rejected the common notion that children are innocent, which is what gave his books their subversive kick. Ironically, it also fueled his later professional woes.

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