I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times

Director: Don Was

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


The public perception of Brian Wilson certainly varies, ranging from his image as one of the seminal superstars of rock and roll and leader of the Beach Boys to that of a drug-addicted, half-crazed zombie embroiled in family strife. What people don’t know enough about, and what I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times adds to the picture are the respect and accolades that his fellow musicians bestow on him, and the double-edged sword that was his musical genius.

Obviously this is not, nor should it be, a simple black-and-white portrait; indeed, Wilson’s genius cut both ways and certainly contributed to the destructive patterns of insecurity, emotional illness, and dysfunctional relationships that so decimated his life. But as this film reveals, Wilson was a most complicated man. The kind of brilliance which allowed him to create and introduce unique song forms and impressionistic sound textures to musical arrangements in what was still the early days of rock and roll was often years ahead of his contemporaries; unfortunately, it also underlay a troubled and self-destructive persona.

Interviews with family, collaborators, and other artists, but most importantly with Wilson himself, provide unique and telling insights into the soul and mind of an important contemporary artist. Featuring performances and new interpretations of some of Wilson’s music, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times is both a fascinating and an entertaining examination of one man's artistic genius and its impact on the world.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


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