RTE Television

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story depicts one man's wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art. This film combines traditional documentary storytelling with the original animation of over 70 years of art from the renegade children's book author and illustrator.

Far Out ponders the complexities and contradictions of a man, who, armed with an acerbic wit, an accusing finger, and a razor sharp pencil, gave visual representation to revolutionary voices during one of the most dramatic periods in American history.

Tomi Ungerer came of age during the German occupation of France in World War II, and this era impacted his life and his art. He produced some of the most iconic imagery of the 1960s and '70s with striking visual commentaries protesting American involvement in Vietnam. Ungerer also created boundary exploring erotica and provocative political art, while penning best-selling children's literature with mischievous wit and childlike innocence. The factors that vaulted him to meteoric success - fearless creativity, absolute outspokenness, fierce independence - also made him a lightning rod for controversy and the object of intense malice.

He arrived on American shores eager for economic opportunities and new creative freedom, and he left having offended even the tolerant and open-minded as he pushed past the limits of propriety. Once the most famous children's book author in America, Tomi Ungerer became exiled to the professional abyss. He retreated to Nova Scotia in the hopes of finding himself, and there he reinvented himself by adopting an agrarian lifestyle. Ultimately, his search led him to Ireland in 1976 where he found his own personal satisfaction and inner peace - and where he now enjoys renewed critical
and commercial success.

Through motion graphics techniques from stop motion to 3-D animation,hundreds of select pictures from Ungerer's archive have been uniquely animated, bringing his childhood sketches, advertising campaigns, anti-Vietnam War posters, cartoons, collages, works of erotica, and children's books into motion. In addition, archival footage and still photographs are selectively interspersed throughout the piece, providing important historical context to his story.

This documentary is complete with interviews from the late Maurice Sendak, legendary children's book author; Jules Feiffer, syndicated Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist; Patrick Skene Catling, British children's book author and critic; Michael Patrick Hearn, American literary scholar specializing in children's literature and illustration; Steven Heller, art director, journalist, and critic for the New York Times Book Review, and many others.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
  • RT One, Thursday, 10.45pm