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The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

2:23 | Trailer
Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.


Jeff Feuerzeig


Jeff Feuerzeig
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Daniel Johnston ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Laurie Allen Laurie Allen ... Herself
Brian Beattie Brian Beattie ... Himself
Louis Black ... Himself
David Fair David Fair ... Himself
Jad Fair Jad Fair ... Himself
Don Goede Don Goede ... Himself
Matt Groening ... Himself
Gibby Haynes ... Himself
Sally Johnston Reid Sally Johnston Reid ... Herself
Bill Johnston Bill Johnston ... Himself
Dick Johnston Dick Johnston ... Himself
Mabel Johnston Mabel Johnston ... Herself
Margie Johnston Margie Johnston ... Herself
Ken Lieck Ken Lieck ... Himself


Born January 22, 1961, the late Daniel Johnston began expressing himself through art as a child while doctors struggled to accurately diagnose his unusual behavior. In addition to drawing prolifically, he began using a boombox record curiously stirring songs to cassette tape in high school. Following his brother to Texas, he eventually landed in Austin, working unskilled jobs while continuing to record and self-distribute music to friends and friendly strangers. It was clear to everyone that Daniel was not a typical artist - a disquieting innocence, with references to both light and dark spiritual forces, were evident throughout his work. It was this distinctive voice that compelled local musicians to share his art beyond Austin's city limits, culminating in respected indie musicians like Tom Waits, Beck, and Wilco to either record his songs or reach out to collaborate. Four years in the making, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON honors the complex artistry of Daniel Johnston while ... Written by Mae Moreno

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, drug content, and language including a sexual reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

5 May 2006 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Daniel Johnston találkozása az ördöggel See more »

Filming Locations:

Austin, Texas, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,192, 2 April 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Would visit Starseeds Cafe in Austin and leave drawings on yellow legal pad paper for his favorite friends. See more »


Daniel Johnston: I never met a girl I didn't meet.
See more »


Features Broadway Danny Rose (1984) See more »


Do It Right
Written by Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston
Published by Sit Boy Girl Music (BMI) & Eternal Yip Eye Music (BMI)
Administed by BUG Music Publishing
Performed by Daniel Johnston and Maureen Tucker (as Moe Tucker)
Courtesy of Moe Tucker
See more »

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User Reviews

Gifted but troubled artist makes a comeback with the aid of loving parents and good psychiatric care
1 June 2006 | by roland-104See all my reviews

Biodoc about Daniel Johnston, a multitalented man, a compulsively prolific cartoon artist, song writer and performer, whose bipolar disorder and drug abuse led to episodes of severe mental illness and destructive behaviors, beginning in his early 20s, in the 1980s, problems that stifled his career for many years, until consistent psychiatric care and kindly parental oversight effected a more stable course for him more recently. Now approaching age 45, Johnston has made a comeback of sorts, reaching a level of artistic self control and productivity that has swept him toward unprecedented recognition.

This film charts Johnston's life and family, ingeniously assimilating materials made by Johnston himself as a kid and young adult - super 8 and video footage; cassette audiotapes; still photos – as well as contemporary video interviews and stills. By mid-adolescence he was holed up in the basement of his family's home, staying up all hours, writing songs, drawing, making tapes almost nonstop. By his mid-20s he had run away to Austin, Texas, and made a splash on the pop music scene there. But within a year or two, abetted by lots of marijuana and LSD, he began a series of horrendous manic and depressive episodes that scuttled his career, even as he was beginning to receive recognition locally and on a national level.

For much of the next 15 years Johnston was hospitalized frequently after extremely dangerous manic episodes (he seriously injured one acquaintance with a lead pipe, and later interfered with control of his father's small aircraft, leading to a crash landing that, luckily, both survived), zoned out on medications, and vegetating at the family home in Waller, Texas. But in the past few years his course has stabilized.

He's obese, the result of his mood stabilizing medications and inactivity no doubt, and he's no longer the flamboyant, zany free spirit that titillated and frightened so many of his followers in the past. But the film shows us that he is now in better control of his drawing and singing performances than he ever was years earlier. He has been helped immensely by his parents, Bill and Mabel, now in their early 80s, his agent and owner of a small recording company, Jeff Tartakov, and an Austin music journalist, Louis Black, all of whom have worked hard to help sustain and enhance Johnston's reputation as a creative artist.

Their loyal efforts have been well rewarded. The film demonstrates the success of a show of Johnston's more recent drawings at Gallery Zero One in Los Angeles, where over 90% of the works were sold to a single collector before the exhibition even opened. In 2003 Johnston sang before an audience in Sweden that obviously worshiped him. Cartoonist Matt Groening is a fan of Johnston's. Tom Waits and Beck, among many others, have covered his songs. And just a few weeks ago (subsequent to the film) the Whitney Museum in Manhattan announced that Johnston's works would be included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

From a psychiatric perspective, a good case can be made that Johnston does suffer from bipolar disorder. But he was compulsively creating art years before his first episode of mood disorder. Like Vincent Van Gogh and some other compulsive artists, Johnston may also have Asperger's Syndrome.

This film is very well crafted until near the end. Actually it seems as if the filmmakers really didn't know how or when to end it. There are a half dozen moments in the last 20 minutes when they could have done so. See more, including examples of Johnston's art work, at these websites: www.museumoflove.com and www.rejectedunknown.com/feature.htm. My grade: B+ 8/10.

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