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"Absolut Warhola" DVD Review

 I'm going to save you 80 minutes of your life in case you are an Andy Warhol fan and are looking at this DVD of Absolut Warhola, the 2001 German-Polish documentary where director Stanislaw Mucha and his tiny crew journey to the eastern Slovakia town of Miková where Warhol's parents were from to interview surviving relatives, mostly cousins, whom he never met, though he sent them his works.

  • There's lots of aimless driving trying to even find Miková. There is also aimless hunting for mushrooms while pointing out long tapped oil wells in the woods.
  • A 90-year-old women heats water for coffee and it takes forever to heat and we get to see almost every minute of the process.
  • Babushkas seem to be the uniform for women.
  • There's a "Warhol doppelganger" who goes around and supposedly is meant to fool and/or delight the impoverished townspeople, but they don't get the joke.
  • His family refuses to believe he was gay and that the reason radical feminist terrorist Valerie Solanas shot him was because he refused to marry her.
  • The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art is in neighboring Medzilaborce and is in such poor shape that the roof leaks and the museum director openly asks for donations and gives out the bank account information. (I looked up the museum's website and they closed in March 2023 for massive renovations and hope to reopen by late-2024, so I guess the begging worked and only took nearly a quarter century.) They have a good selection of works that Warhol donated.
  • The local Gypsy population hates the museum because they aren't allowed to enter, supposedly due to racism. When asked about this, the museum director denies that it's racism, but that they don't bathe, smell bad, and damage and steal things and if they want to visit, just take a bath and don't steal things. 
  • This one guy likes to play his trumpet and we get to see him honking away several times at length.
  • One cousin relates a story about Warhol sending a suitcase full of art. They used it to "make trumpets" for the children and stored the rest in the attic. When a flood damaged the case, they threw it all away. 
  • They thought life was better under "socialism" meaning the Communist dictatorship because you could sleep in the park without being robbed.

The only thing that made this bearable was heckling it with the missus. The filmmakers don't even show a map to let us know where these boondocks locales are.

On the technical front, it's a non-anamorphic letterboxed presentation meaning on a current widescreen TV there will be bars on all sides. The quality of the 16mm photography is as blah as the landscapes. Audio is stereo and clear enough, but since it's just talking with subtitles, it's functional at best.

The only extra other than some trailers for other films is a brief "making of" piece which consists of video of the crew goofing off for a few minutes. It manages to be even less interesting than the feature.

Sometimes documentaries are meant for only the hardest core fans of a subject like Moonage Daydream was for David Bowie, but there are limits to irony, folks, and a tedious 80 minutes about people who never met Warhol who live in a place he never visited and barely associated with beyond sending some art is well past that line. What's next, a lengthy expedition to visit the distant cousins of the neighbors of the family who emigrated to America in the late-19th Century and whose descendant became the favorite drug dealer of 1980s Sunset Strip metal bands?

Score: 2/10. Skip it.


In case you don't believe me, I see someone posted the whole thing a few weeks ago. 


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