Review: The Immortal Augustus Gladstone

What if I told you that the guy behind Myst made a movie?

During the early ‘90s, Robyn Miller changed the face of gaming forever. Alongside his brother Rand, he created Myst, a surrealistic adventure game that featured a dream-like storyline, cutting-edge graphics and inventive puzzles. The world has since seen many copycats, but nothing has come close to the haunting majesty of the first two Myst titles. They aren’t technically “great” by modern standards, but they are still enormously intriguing. That’s exactly how I would describe Robyn Miller’s first feature film, The Immortal Augustus Gladstone: intriguing.

This faux-documentary is about a strange man named Augustus Gladstone, played by Robyn Miller. Augustus is a pale, hairless recluse with a terrible blonde wig, a South Carolina accent and a wardrobe that seems to be ripped straight from Mr. Rogers’ closet. He also claims to be a 150-year-old vampire.

Augustus Gladstone at home

The weird thing about this Miller’s film is that Augustus’s supposed immortality plays second fiddle to his more mundane eccentricities.  This is not a horror movie. Not by a long shot. According to the  “documentary filmmakers” shooting Gladstone’s story, they first discovered him through his video blogs. You can actually watch them here.

As you can see, he’s a strange dude. Augustus lives in a quaint apartment inside an abandoned Portland hotel. He makes videos on what I assume is a stolen Wi-Fi connection. Augustus’s claims of vampirism don’t even pop up until well into the film. When they do, he quickly hand-waves them away as personal matters that he’d rather not go into.

Augustus Gladstone the vampire

The heart of Miller’s film is that Gladstone is just plain fascinating. He has a strict moral compass. He’s a straight up gentle man. His friends—who we meet through “man on the street”-style interviews—don’t seem to believe Augustus’s stories, but they love him all the same.

Whether he is an actual vampire or not, people seem to gravitate towards him. Augustus lives illegally and much of the focus seems to be on his tenuous existence. Will he be evicted? Should he be committed?

The most remarkable part of the movie is that it’s played completely straight. Augustus probably isn’t immortal, but he sure believes that he is.  There isn’t any abject proof that he isn’t what he says he is, but there is always a slight hint that he just might be. He has shelves full of documents and photographs from olden times. He claims to have been personal friends and/or romantically involved with all sorts of colorful characters, from Andy Warhol to 19th century French aristocrat and dandy, Count Robert de Montesquiou.

My favorite aspect of The Immortal Augustus Gladstone is that it leaves us without answers. We’ll never know if Augustus was a pathological liar, a madman or even possibly, an actual vampire. Throughout the film, every scene screams that this man is a fraud, and yet… it always leaves enough room for another interpretation.

Augustus Gladstone in his hotel

The film does wear out its welcome, dragging a bit in its final third, but it also somehow leaves the viewer wanting more.  Like Myst, it just struck me. It might not stand the test of time for everyone, but it’s damn interesting right now.

The Immortal Augustus Gladstone is available via http://theimmortalaugustusgladstone.com.

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