Al Carbee’s entire home and its many ramshackle additions are filled with Barbies situated within dioramas - environments rich with every conceivable option for the doll. Filmmaker Jeremy Workman is responsible for bringing Carbee’s work to our attention. He frames Magical Universe in such a way that the artist’s eccentricities are accentuated for effect rather than in support of his art, yet over time (filming lasted 10 years) their relationship becomes increasingly tender, almost symbiotic. Carbee is so inventive that it’s difficult to tell who is in control of the film, particularly when he begins incorporating Workman’s footage into his own art.
Watch this film if you’re curious how the subject of a documentary can manipulate the making of a film and where the authorship of such partnerships can be separated, if ever they can. Also, if you like outsider art and you found In the Realms of the Unreal interesting, you’ll find Magical Universe just as profound an investigation into creative compulsion.