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Julien Donkey-Boy

Theatrical poster
Directed by Harmony Korine
Produced by Cary Woods
Written by Harmony Korine
Starring Ewen Bremner
Chloë Sevigny
Werner Herzog
Evan Neumann
Cinematography Anthony Dod Mantle
Editing by Valdís Óskarsdóttir
Distributed by Fine Line Features
Release date(s) Venice Film Festival:
7 September 1999
United States:
15 October 1999
13 September 2000
Running time 97 min.
Country United States United States
Language English

Julien Donkey-Boy is an avant-garde 1999 independent American drama film directed by Harmony Korine. The screenplay concentrates on the schizophrenic Julien, played by Scottish actor Ewen Bremner, and his dysfunctional family. The film also stars Chloë Sevigny as Julien's sister, Pearl, and Werner Herzog as his father. Julien Donkey-Boy is the sixth film to be made under the self-imposed rules of the "Dogme 95" manifesto, and the first non-European film to be made under the Dogme 95 "vow of chastity".

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1999, and received a limited release in Los Angeles at a single cinema on October 15, 1999; the film showed for a month's time at the Los Angeles theater, and grossed a total of $80,226 by that November.[1] It was, however, given a wide theatrical release in European countries the following year, particularly in France and the Netherlands.



The film is about a dysfunctional family consisting of Julien (Ewen Bremner) a young man with untreated schizophrenia, his sister (Chloë Sevigny) who is carrying his child, his brother (Evan Neuman) and his domineering, German father (Werner Herzog).

Main Cast

Actor Role
Ewen Bremner Julien
Chloë Sevigny Pearl
Werner Herzog Father
Evan Neumann Chris
Joyce Korine Grandma
Chrissy Kobylak Chrissy
Victor Varnado Rapper
Virginia Reath Gybecologist
Alvin Law Card-Playing Neighbor
Tom Mullica Magician
Ricky Ashley Hassidic Boy
Carmela García Nurse


Writer-director Harmony Korine attempts to show the world through Julien’s eyes: a schizophrenic kaleidoscope of images — some hauntingly beautiful, some disturbing and violent. It was the first American film made in accordance with the Danish filmmaking manifesto Dogme 95. Shot on handheld digital video, the film was transferred to 16mm stock before being blown up to 35mm film for the final print. Korine used this unique method to give the film a low-definition degraded look.

Dogme 95

Korine broke a few of the Dogme 95 rules in making the film. For example, Dogme 95 stipulates that all props must be found at the location of filming. Julien's dead baby is a prop found in the maternity unit of the hospital where the scene was shot; it was used by the nurses there to practice pre-natal CPR. Also, all the camerawork is supposed to be handheld, but this film uses hidden cameras, technically not handheld. Murders are forbidden, but the film opens with a murder. There is also non-diegetic music in the ice-skating scene (Oval's "Mediaton" from Systemisch), although it sounds like it alternates between diegetic and non-diegetic use. And finally, the director must not be credited; Korine is credited (however, the film only gives his name — it does not say "directed by Harmony Korine", just "Harmony Korine").

Despite these major transgressions, the original Dogme 95 committee endorsed Julien Donkey-Boy. In an interview on the Epidemic DVD, Lars Von Trier, Dogme 95 co-creator, lauded Korine's ability to interpret the rules creatively.

Release and reception

Following the film's release in Venice, it hit Los Angeles, playing at a single cinema from mid-October to early November of 1999, grossing a total of $80,226 on a single screen- it was never released theatrically anywhere else in the United States. Critical reaction to the film was mixed, with much of it being negative.

Empire Magazine said that "Despite some creditable performances, Korine's bizarre, shambling direction renders the result less ground-breakingly experimental than rectum-numbingly dull."[2] Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "A self-indulgent mess."[3]

Despite a sense of negative reaction to the film, it was praised by some critics. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying the film attained a "depth of compassion and understanding ... [it] acquires a spiritual dimension that allows it ultimately to become an act of redemption".[4] Additional praise for the film came from Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3/4 stars, saying that "[The film] adds up to something, unlike a lot of movies where individual shots are sensational, but they add up to nothing"; Ebert did, however, note that the film had a very limited audience: "The odds are good that most people will dislike this film and be offended by it. For others, it will provoke sympathy rather than scorn. You know who you are".[5]

External links


  1. ^ "Box office/Business for Julien Donkey-Boy". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 October 2009.  
  2. ^ "Review: Julien Donkey-Boy". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2009.  
  3. ^ Guthmann, Edward (29 October 1999). "Low-Tech 'Julien' is an Ugly Mess- Korine throws aesthetics out the window". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 9 October 2009.  
  4. ^ Thomas, Kevin (15 October 1999). "L.A. Times Review: Julien Donkey-Boy". Los Angeles Times.,0,831085.story. Retrieved 10 October 2009.  
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (5 November 1999). "Julien Donkey-Boy Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 October 2009.  

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