Poster for Tarnation

Spring 2005 Edge series

Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 4:00pm
Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by


Rated 14A · 1h 28m
United States

Tarnation is a powerful autobiographical journey that spans the life of filmmaker Jonathan Caouette. We watch as Caouette, now in his thirties, starts to piece together the shards of his life, beginning with a video recording of the filmmaker learning of his mother’s drug overdose, which prompts a return to his grandparents’ Texas home and to the family archives kept there. Tarnation tells a story of personal damage that crosses three generations and takes many forms. From grandparents to mother to son, no one seems to have a solid grasp on reality; all are eccentric at best, psychotic at worst. Daringly, brilliantly, Caouette uses amateur digital software to produce visual correlatives for the various psychological states. And with superb sensitivity and taste, Caouette also lets some scenes play themselves without technical mediation. Riveting and deeply affecting, Tarnation sets a new standard for autobiographical filmmaking.

“Remarkable. Tarnation is a powerful and heartbreaking film. Caouette shows himself to be a documentarian of rare skill.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

“I feel transcendence in reality, watching Tarnation, in which Jonathan Caouette takes a deathless swan dive into the fractured memories of his strange, tormented, beautiful life…” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly