directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
USA 2003


As comic books lost their innocence and became an alternative form of literary media developing into graphic novels, Harvey Pekar was a nobody who kept on being a nobody who used comic books to tell about his ordinary doll life. For Pekar nothing is too ordinary: where superheroes fight atomic mutants and win with glory, Pekar rides the bus and is contend to be confirmed that everything is disillusioned. "American Splendor" took a unique position on the world of comics, as Pekar, who unashamed reveals himself and his ordinary life, became the forerunner for adult graphic novels and blogs and became considered the blue-collar Ernest Hemmingway. Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff, and Pekar showed us that its also pretty interesting.

One moment documentary, another moment set-up interview, the next dramatized comic book, “American Splendor” uses real life elements as footnotes or third person commentary to give the film a uniqueness. The same goes for the cinematography. On moment its indifferent and plain ordinary, the next CGI montages. Obviously a lot of effort has gone into designing a cinematography that is as ordinary and plain as Pekar’s comics.

The film begins showing Pekar as one hell of an unusual child, then quickly brings us up to Pekar and Crump and how “American Splendor” began. From here we follow Pekar life, meeting and marrying Joyce, how fame got to him, how he got and got thru cancer and finally ending with his retirement. Defying career, Pekar is happy when another day has gone and nothing important happened.

What’s so surprising about “American Splendor” is that it shows us how much life wisdom there is in ordinary life. Here is a man who is so disillusioned about life, that he refuses to improve it with such indifference, the he makes gloom seem jolly. Between his endless self-pity and complaining, he sees and depicts truths which reflects our own lives: My favorite comment is, "Riding the bus saves time, but it doesn't make your life longer." Ordinary life is indeed pretty complex stuff.

Accoladed at Cannes and Sundance, to name a few, and highly praised critically, "American Splendor" is a masterpiece of cinema and should be considered required viewing. What a wonderful film.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: January 20, 2003 (Sundance Film Festival)

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DVD Review: HBO Video - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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HBO Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:41:03

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.57 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s


NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital English
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: HBO Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Group Audio Commentary with Directors, Cast & Harvey Pekar
• 'My Movie Year' 12 page Comic Insert That Appeared in 'Entertainment Weekly'
• Sundance Channel's Road to splendor (5:27)
• Music track only: American Splendor by Eytan Mirsky (2:33)
• Trailer (2:19)
• HBO presentation trailer
• Easter Egg about Toby the Nerd (1:02)
• Insert (chapters)

DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 23

Comments At first glance this is a great disc: Audio commentary and lots of extra, what else can you ask for? Quality instead of quantity!

The audio commentary consists of the directors, the cast and Harvey Pekar almost at random commentating on-screen action and connecting anecdotes to it. Then there is the usual backclapping featurette and trailer. And the easter egg is just dumb. The only thing of quality is the 12-page comic that comes along in the "limited edition", what ever that may be.

The menues did not work on my Pioneer player, nor on two other stand alone players. Maybe it is a glitch on some DVDs.

 - Henrik Sylow


DVD Menus




Subtitle Sample






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