Jungle
Shepard & Dark

Two men, friends for over 50 years, have written each other letters frequently and kept them all, and have now decided to form a collection of them into a book. Shepard & Dark is a documentary that introduces us to these two men, and follows them as they try to organize the letters and give them structure into a narrative that will become the book "Two Prospectors".

One of these men you may have heard of: Sam Shepard. He is an author, a playwrite, an Academy Award nominated actor, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for drama... he's prolific and successful. The other needs a bit more introduction: Johnny Dark. He's also a writer, though far less know, and has lived on odd jobs.

Of the two, Johnny is clearly more of the archivist. He has all of the letters he's gotten throughout the years in binders and protective slipcases. Sam's collection, on the other hand, is piled in file boxes. Though he is famous, Sam has managed to keep his live mostly private, and he's turned down this project of making a book from the letters more than a few times. But now he's interested.

The real focus of this film isn't the project of the letters and the book, but of the two men and their friendship. While the two share like views on a number of topics, their approaches to life are diametrically opposed. Dark is quiet and stationary, Shepard is brash and constantly moving. Dark has ties to his community, Shepard laments his rootlessness. It is a picture of two men who shouldn't be friends, but absolutely should be friends.

Shepard & Dark is a fascinating glimpse into a long lasting relationship between two men. Seeing this makes me want to read the book.

Review by Jason Pace
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