Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
Director: Robert B. Weide and Don Argott
Release Date: July 22
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the pre-eminent authors of the twentieth century, “an oracle for the baby boomer generation” and a much beloved rites of passage writer for teenagers. His sixth novel Slaughterhouse-Five became an instant classic, announcing Vonnegut as the voice of a silent generation with his fictional justice to the horrors of war. A Prisoner of War in Dresden, Vonnegut informed his principal character Billy Pilgrim with his own personal insights.
Robert B. Weide is possibly best known for his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He started his fan correspondence with Vonnegut 40 years ago, so this can be clearly classified as a labour of love. It also marks the first and therefore authoritative look into the writers’ upbringing and life. The film spans his childhood in Indianapolis, his experiences in World War II, his marriage, family, and divorce, his early careers as a publicist for General Electric and a car salesman, and the long years as a struggling writer, leading to eventual breakthrough in 1969 which led to the discovery of his earlier works and propelled him to write Breakfast of Champions. Eventually the tide of critical acclaim ebbed.
Weide’s enduring friendship with Vonnegut lends an easy, accessible charm to this work. He recounts the challenge of piecing together this work and how the film almost “infringed” on the friendship by the end, having concerns it would be the other way initially. Intriguing, enthralling and enlightening, Unstuck in Time reignites a spark of affection in those familiar with him and serves as a wonderful introduction for the unacquainted. “I have written again and again about ordinary people who try to behave decently in an indecent world,” said Vonnegut about his work. He died aged 84 in 2007.
Words: Michael McDermott