“The Dungeon Masters” @ DOXA

The Dungeon Masters
Director: Keven McAlester, USA, 2008, 93 minutes

Tuesday May 26 | 9:00PM | Vancity Theatre

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Inside the beige walls of a Middle-American convention centre, a dream of honour, adventure, and Wagnerian passion burns in the hearts of three different people. Director Keven McAlester returns with The Dungeon Masters, a journey deep into the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

Scott aspires to greatness, whether it’s through a cable access show called Uncle Drac’s Magical Clubhouse (which is just as awful as it sounds) or his unpublished fantasy novels. Elizabeth, whose persona of a dark elf requires the laborious application of full-body makeup, drifts between bad relationships and dead-end jobs. Richard, reunited with his adoptive son and the gamers he has feuded with for the past twenty years, must reconcile with his own emotional inadequacy. All three are bound up in their raw need for something bigger, something better. Something, conversely enough, more real.

Filmed with extraordinary attention by cinematographer Lee Daniel (Slacker), The Dungeon Masters is not another gawk at a subculture of freak and geeks, but an honest look at what Pulitzer-prize winner Ernest Becker called the “immortality project.” If all of human civilization, from God to LOTR (That’s Lord of the Rings, for the uninitiated), is a defense mechanism against death, the need to become part of something heroic is not only normal, but necessary. As Scott says, “A lot of the world is very gray, there‘s a lot of people out there, but where is the greatness?” The struggle to find happiness and, more importantly, meaning becomes an epic quest all on its own. Richard, leading his gamers into an unknown adventure, describes it as “A solitary imperfection in an otherwise perfect void.”