Sunday Feature-Week 11: Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

Title: Julien Donkey-Boy

Tone: Genreless, outsider, schizophrenic cinema


Director-Harmony Korine

Cast- Ewen Bremmer, Chloe Sevigny, Werner Herzog

When: 1999

What: Julian, an adolescent schizophrenic living in a dysfunctional family, anxiously awaits for his sister to give birth to his son.


  • Harmony Korine is one of the most refreshing independent filmmakers working today, often blending the macabre with the beautiful and creating a truly unique filmgoing experience .
  • Often toying with imagery and the language of cinema, Korine shot Julien Donkey-Boy under the guidelines of the Dogme 95 manifesto which are as follows.

1.Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.

2.The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed.

3.The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.

4.The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).

5.Optical work and filters are forbidden.

6.The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)

7.Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).

8.Genre movie are not acceptable.

9.The final picture must be transferred to the Academy 35mm film, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, that is, not widescreen.

10.The director must not be credited.

  • Korine, whose uncle had severe schizophrenia, depicts the nature of schizophrenia with utmost honesty. Whereas most films depict sugar-coated versions of schizophrenia (A Beautiful Mind 2001,The Soloist 2008) Julien Donkey-Boy depicts the frightening, complicated, and unrelenting nature of the illness.
  • Note: Harmony Korine is a director that tends to divide audiences, basically people love his films or think they’re awful. Absent of conventional narratives and generally containing dark imagery, Korine’s films tend to put people off. I am more often than not fascinated with his films and feel that Julien Donkey-Boy is one of the best depictions of mental illness on film and one of Korine’s best films.


~ by cinematte on March 14, 2010.

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