The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical genius that nearly slipped away. It depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand. Because Daniel Johnston is an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites mark his life.
The film artfully melds current footage, vintage performances, home movies, and dozens of recorded audiotapes from Johnston’s life. Testimony from supportive friends and a deeply committed family adds a rich layer to Johnston’s personal history, but Daniel Johnston’s poetic songs tell their own passionate, haunting, and truly unforgettable story.
Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig chronicles the life of a manic-depressive musician and artist, using a blend of home movies, Johnston’s own audiotapes, vintage performances and current footage. Johnston has recorded more than 10 full-length albums and amassed a prolific portfolio of sketches, and has among his supporters Matt Groening, David Bowie, Sonic Youth, Beck, and Tom Waits.