Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012)

Harry Dean Stanton : Partly Fiction


Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction - Festival Poster

Director: Sophie Huber

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, Debbie Harry


Harry Dean Stanton and Kris Kristofferson

Harry Dean Stanton and Kris Kristofferson

“He’s a poet, he’s a picker
He’s a prophet, he’s a pusher
He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned.
He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”Kris Kristofferson


HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION doesn’t purport to be a biographical documentary and instead aims higher glimpsing a multi-talented enigma on his own fraking terms.

Recognizable but nameless to the general public, a naturalistic, committed god among actors to those who love him,  Kentucky  born Harry Dean Stanton has appeared in over 100 films spanning 5 decades in cinema and television. Among  his most noted  early castings are COOL HAND LUKE, KELLY’S HEROES, TWO LANE BLACKTOP, PAT GARRET AND  BILLY THE KID, DILLINGER,  COCKFIGHTER and GODFATHER 2. These small but standout performances led to  supporting roles as Brett in ALIEN and Brain in    Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Rising to co-star in a cult hit worthy of his idiosyncrasies REPO-MAN led to Harry taking  the lead as Travis Henderson in Wim Wender’s existential journey PARIS, TEXAS…but I digress. I’ve fallen into the trap that  Director Sophie Huber manages to avoid, this doco isn’t concerned with filmography, it’s a day in the life character study of a renaissance  man who would despise any singular label.

Contextually the filmmakers more surreal snapshot approach is probably out of necessity as much as artistic choice. There’s an unfinished thought early on when Harry says as much, “…there are certain things I don’t want to talk about like my mother…my father….my childhood……(long pause while dragging cigarette, then silence.)”

Inhabiting the soul of a musician as dominantly as actor, the documentary wisely chooses to have Harry Dean’s expressive, textured voice say in folk and blues what he can’t express on camera in conversation. The raw, searching emotion in his face, the crackling tender melancholy of his boozed and smoked  journeyman ripened vocals remind of what’s largely missing from contemporary music; sincerity and tumultuous self exploration.

Aspiring to echo its muse, the black and white cinematography adds a time weary dimension to the talking heads. The color of career highlights and external, present day locations bring immediacy and modern day freshness.

Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch

Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch

As psychologically guarded as the subject may be, some things become evident during our time with this esoteric ghost. Harry has made sure to remain an observer of life. He’s a humanist philosopher as happy chatting to his local barman for over 40 years as he is the famous faces he has “bonded” with to call friend and colleague. The openness of his demeanor in direct conflict to his need for private introspection makes for textured viewing. At films end we know only a little more about the man inside, but we appreciate the precious time we have got to spend in his genuine company. The term living legend does come up a few times during the brisk 76 minute running time. but, as only great performers can Harry Dean Stanton leaves the audience wanting more. Naturally it’s Harry himself who sums it up best, when in conversation with Director David Lynch:

Lynch: “How do you see yourself?”

Harry Dean Stanton: ‘There is no self”

Lynch: “How would you like to be remembered?”

Harry Dean Stanton: ‘I don’t care”




Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is now streaming on Netflix

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One comment to Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012)

  • Bryn  says:

    Nice work buddy. A fresh approach.

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