Stephen King: A Necessary Evil (Julien Dupuy, 2020, France)

Stephen King: A Necessary Evil is a 2020 French documentary produced for Arte, and directed by Julien Dupuy. Released in the US with an automated English dub (which doesn't do much for viewer enjoyment), the film is a succinct portrayal of the American horror author. Assembled entirely from preexisting footage and clips from movies based on King's works, the film assembles a picture of King for the casual fan. Anyone with a passing interest in King won't learn anything new from this documentary, which seems to be geared toward people with only a minimal interest in the subject.

The film is most enjoyable for watching various archive footage of King at the very early stages of his career. King made many appearances at universities early in his career, and many of those have been lost to time. However, some were captured on video. The film is less interesting for the clips of the films based on King's works (there are some particularly glaring errors - Rob Reiner's name at one point is spelled "Rob Rainer"). The film also skips over large aspects of King's life, including his spells with alcohol and drug addiction, as well as the car accident that almost cost him his life. 

There has yet to be a definitive documentary on King's life and work, and even this recycles footage from an old documentary that used to appear on A&E in the 1990s. Hopefully, we will one day get a definitive documentary on King. There is another new documentary about King's film adaptations - King on Screen - that looks fairly comprehensive. We hope to see more works on King and the adaptations of his work as King himself is reappraised in the coming decades. Certainly, there is more going on in his work than initially meets the eye.



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