Movie Review: Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons (2019)

April 15, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Dungeon & Dragons; you can bet your arcane asses that a young Dan XIII spent many a lonely, female-less…I mean fun-packed afternoon consuming mass quantities of junk and battling all manner of monsters and maniacs with my erstwhile companions, and even though it’s been decades since I tossed the ol’ dice, I still have an infinity for the game and it’s associated imagery.

Speaking of that imagery, you can bet demons to donuts that it was breathtaking, and sparked the imagination of player’s world wide (and let’s be honest, a Dungeonmaster’s job is a titch easier with visual aids)…and Eye of the Beholder explores it’s creation and history in impressive detail!

Through ninety minutes we journey from the genesis of the game itself, through it’s earliest utilization of pen and ink illustrations, on to TSR’s (the company that published the game for those of you not in the know) creation of a full-time art department. We witness the growth of aesthetics the game presented in it’s various campaign sets, monster manuals, and more from simple drawings to exquisite paintings that serve as commercial pieces, but easily stand as fine art in their own right.

Of course the entire film isn’t just images of realms of adventure and magic and those that inhabit them; rather we get a series of engaging talks with not only the artists, but the players of Dungeons & Dragons who actively utilize their art in their games to propel their stories forward. These stories of those working in the trenches, and the end users of their labor are not only fascinating to hear, they may just rekindle your desire to pick up the dice anew if you are a lapsed role player (it sure did in me)!

Directors Kelley Slagle and Brian Stillman have done a heroes job with Eye of the Beholder; not only have they captured the indelible images that have brought countless realms of imagination to grow and expand, they have captured the very essence of that game play, all while giving a captivating history lesson on the art at hand.



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