Scrap is a documentary that focuses on two eccentric men and their respective life works. In the case of Jim Bishop, it’s Bishop Castle in Colorado, a ten-story modern day castle that he’s been building alone, by hand, since 1969. Tom Every, or Dr. Evermor, as he’d like to be referred, has his Forevertron in Wisconsin, a modern art Disneyland of sorts crafted out of scrap metal, created with the purpose of launching his soul into space when he dies.
While both men have created grand works on seemingly sheer will, their drive to achieve their vision is not their only similarities. Both men share a disdain for authority, in Bishop’s case it’s the bureaucracy that makes it difficult for him to make tourist money off his castle (among other things) and Every just plain doesn’t want to pay taxes. Both men, while being the face of their respective projects, have a strong woman behind the scenes, holding all the practical affairs together. Bishop may be the one building the castle by hand, but it’s his wife that makes sure that every other aspect of the project works and runs smoothly. And, of course, both men have their eccentricities. Bishop often launches into seemingly raving mad tirades at the drop of a hat, while the motivation behind Every’s art and Dr. Evermor persona definitely causes more than one, “um… okaaaaay then…”
The idea of documentaries as being objective has always been a pure one, but not anything possible beyond the theoretical. The second the filmmaker decides what to shoot, or what to edit out, all objectivity disappears. We interact with the environment just by watching it. To that end, while this film is hardly a call-to-action piece, it is an advocate for both Jim Bishop and Tom Every’s endeavors. It enlightens us to their existence and, by being entertaining and compelling, entices us to visit or explore these worlds first-hand (and maybe drop some tourist dollars off).
That said, while we learn about the life and works of these two men, their isn’t any larger narrative tying the film together; this isn’t The King of Kong. This is a glimpse into the worlds of Jim Bishop and Tom Every, and not much happens beyond illumination into their corners of the world. It works for me, and held my interest, but I know some documentary fans may want a little something more.
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