Crumb: Special Edition Terry Zwigoff

It was with this 1994 film that documentary that director Terry Zwigoff brought insight and understanding to the world of artist Robert Crumb, creator of Fritz the Cat, "Keep On Truckin’” and a world of darkly pornographic imagery. Through Zwigoff, we gain not just a greater understanding of Crumb’s vision but a deep respect for his ability to transcend the only sketchily outlined childhood horrors that Robert escaped but that his brothers, Charles and Maxon, could not. It is this sibling relationship that is the heart of Crumb, and it’s those relationships that make the film more than just a look at an artist. For a new special edition, the film has been digitally remastered to better reflect the work of cinematographer Maryse Alberti, who won an award at the Sundance Film Festival for her work; it’s stunning, even though the pan-and-scan on a full screen version of the SE takes back some of that progress. The other addition — my favourite special feature for documentaries — is a commentary by Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert, on which Zwigoff reveals the extent of his relationship with Crumb (they’ve been friends for more than 30 years) and the challenges of making the film on no budget while Zwigoff suffered from debilitating back pain. In documentary cinema — unlike narrative film, in many cases — the behind the scenes stories are almost always as interesting as the film itself, and their commentary bears that out. It’s not a replacement-worthy edition for those who already own it, but it is good enough to convince those who might have hesitated over the previous edition’s skimpy extras. Seek out the widescreen version though. Plus: preview of Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential. (Sony)