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Darkon
Darkon
Actors: Skip Lipman, Kenyon Wells, Rebecca Thurmond, Daniel McCarthur
Director: Andrew Neel;Luke Meyer
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Documentary
UR     2008     1hr 30min

Insightful, moving and often funny, Darkon is a theatrical documentary feature about a unique realm within the extraordinary worldwide phenomenon of live action role playing (LARP).

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Skip Lipman, Kenyon Wells, Rebecca Thurmond, Daniel McCarthur
Director: Andrew Neel;Luke Meyer
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Drama, Christmas, Fantasy, Documentary
Studio: PorchLight Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 02/26/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA
Reviewed on 7/7/2011...
Darkon is a documentary chronicling the adventures of a troupe of LARP (Live Action Role-Playing) players. It's not horrible, but it's badly made. I don't want to be mean, but I have seen a problem in a lot of the recent documentaries I've been watching and this one is a perfect example. The directors try to tell too many stories and not focus on any one thing too long. I think the problem is that too many documentary directors are either making their movies to originally be tv reality shows or they try to follow that format. But, in a reality show, you have anywhere between 6-26 episodes to tell your story, and in a film about an hour and a half. So, this is a great film for the people involved to watch themselves, but if you don't know what LARP is, you're not going to learn. And what about the people it was made about? Most of their stories are just glossed over so the director can have some great action shots. If that's what you wanted, you should have just shot a low-budget fantasy film. All in all, if you know what's going on, you will get some enjoyment out of it. I'm familiar with the world of LARP and I've been a roleplayer more of my life than I haven't. But for the uninitiated, this will just seem weird and confusing...and this movie isn't going to change people's minds...more likely just make them think roleplayers are more weird than they first thought.
On a final note, I have to make a comment on what a lot of the LARP folks in the movie say. They say that they like the game because they have no power in the real world and there is no place in the world for honor or bravery. By all means, play your games and continue to have the fun you seem to be having. There is nothing at all wrong with that. But just take a little of that enthusiasm into your everyday work lives and try to change the world for the better. If more people realized that all of us that work in fast food, resorts, banks, etc., are the driving force for this world, not the moguls and middle management, we might make the world a better place. We are the gears and the oil that turns the wheel...and if we stop, so does everything else. Go out and make the world a better place, folks, don't just moan about what's wrong with it. Do some good and some good will come back to you. I'll get off of my soapbox now.

Movie Reviews

By Gamers, About Gamers, and Ultimately for Gamers
Michael J. Varhola | 11/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"One of the few non-comedic movies by gamers, about gamers, and ultimately for gamers, Darkon (Ovie Productions/Seethink Productions, 2006) is a documentary that focuses on the activities of the Darkon Wargaming Club, a fantasy live-action role-playing (LARP) group in Baltimore, Maryland.

Moreso than movies of any sort by non-gamers about role-playing gaming (e.g., the execrable Mazes and Monsters), Darkon explores the purposes, positive aspects, and benefits of the hobby and the motives people have for participating in it. While it also hints at the all-consuming effect RPGs can have on their participants, it is ultimately more of an apologia for the hobby than an examination of it.

From a technical point of view, Darkon is well filmed, excellently scored, and structurally sound. One thing it does not do, however, is explain what a LARP is. Naturally, this does not matter much as far as gamers are concerned, but the absence of such explanation severely limits the value this film could have had as a tool for telling the non-gaming world about something about which it has limited awareness and little understanding. It is also a little on the long side, with multiple, interchangeable battle scenes, some of which could have been cut in lieu of some interviews with some third parties who could have helped put LARPing and RPGing in context.

A product of its times, Darkon draws as much on the genre of reality television as it does on that of documentary, with asides to the camera by its various subjects that shed light on their motivations and relationships in and out of the game. Depending on whether one likes reality TV or not, this could be seen as either a benefit or a detriment.

Some of the costuming and props used by the Darkon LARPers are impressive, with especial kudos going to the Dark Elf reenactors (who do not appear in the film nearly enough). Firing catapults and a wooden fortress that is actually burned at the end of a battle demonstrate the willingness of this club's members to go above and beyond in their gaming.

Overall, Darkon is worth a watch by anyone interested in seeing a particular side of the gaming genre. It is likely, however, to be just as confusing as it is enlightening to outsiders, and does not go nearly as far as it could toward producing an understanding of the hobby to those not already familiar with it.

Darkon is 93 minutes long. It premiered and won the Best Documentary Audience Award at the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and is an official selection playing at the Hot Docs, Maryland Film Festival, Silverdocs, LA Film Festival, Britdoc and Melbourne International Film Festival.

Skirmisher Online Gaming Magazine"
I'm not into these games, but I loved this movie...
S. | Honolulu, HI | 11/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've never been into fantasy books, board games or computer games. So I know I'm not the intended audience for this film. Still, I found it fascinating. The filmmakers did a great job chronicling a story line in this live action role playing game as contrasted with the real lives of the those who play it. From an outsider's perspective, the complexity and depth of this game is very interesting. The players find real enjoyment in the game...it's not your typical fantasy, as the players do appear to get quite a workout in some of their battles.

I can't say this film made me want to be a gamer, but I've found a new respect from those who play it."
Enjoyable Look at Live-Action Role-Playing
Kasey Driscoll | 02/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Being a fan of documentaries first and foremost, and knowing very little about live-action role-playing games, I have to say that the very subject itself was surprisingly unique and portrayed in a straight-forward non-judgmental fashion. For that, I enjoyed Darkon tremendously. I am partially familiar with the same sub-culture that quotes Monty Python incessantly and throws around multi-sided die. In fact, at some stages in my life I've been among them with great enthusiasm. Let me just say that I do believe the filmmakers behind Darkon to be genuinely interested and respectful of their documentary's subject, but that doesn't automatically make the scenes of grown men stumbling about through a soccer field in suits of armor, taunting one another in melodramatic accents, any less comical. To me, the way the action is framed here in this film shows that the creators take it as seriously as the live-action role-players themselves. I wouldn't want to be introduced to this subject in any other way, so good for them.

Darkon is a Wargaming Club in Baltimore, Maryland. By this, I mean that it is a group of people who go away for the weekend to role-play with one another while dressing up in the traditional RPG medieval garb. The documentary goes over several in-game conflicts in great detail and features some closer looks at some relevant players, both in the game and outside of the game. Darkon isn't just a bunch of people running around hitting each other with sword-shaped pillows either, there are very specific rules in Darkon and how seriously the players seem to take these rules is remarkable. The film really offered some decent insights into why people escape from reality, why people enjoy role-playing, and how they might justify it philosophically. This movie could've easily fallen in danger of exploiting its subject and at times it could be perceived as doing so, but I'm not convinced that is intentional. This documentary is good for live-action role-playing, as it seems to want its audience to understand the attraction. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and I still enjoy video games now and then, so it wasn't really difficult for me to both enjoy and respect what these people are up to. On the other hand, some people might watch Darkon and just laugh at and judge its subject, and for them I wouldn't recommend it.

Overall, I definitely recommend Darkon if the subject is an interest to you, if you're interested in knowing more about the subject, or even just knowing why people do this sort of thing. I watched it with my wife who was kind of mocking them at first, which I discouraged. By the end she was dreaming of going away for a weekend and pretending to be a Elven princess, which I encouraged. A good buy overall and the Elvish is conveniently subtitled."