Howl (2010) BBC 2 iPlayer, written, directed and produced by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Freiman.
Posted by celticman on Mon, 27 Jan 2014
Howl is a poem, perhaps the poem, that helped to bring together a loose group of writers and poets that we refer to as the Beat Generation. Certainly, Epstein and Freiman have put lots of work into establishing those credentials. The film jumps back and forth between Alan Ginsberg’s (played by James Franco) inaugural reading of the poem at the Six Gallery Reading in 1955, the 1957 obscenity trial of Lawrence Ferlingetti (Andrew Rogers) and his bookshop that had published Howl and other poems, interviews with and jumpshots to key player in the Beat movement, such as Jack Kerouac (Todd Rotondi) and Neal Cassidy (Jon Prescott) using the poem as a palimpsest to move through time. Animation for the poem was provided by Eric Drooker and helped link the transitions between different sets and was the best of part of the film.
I was looking for my copy of Howl and other poems and I couldn’t find it. I’m not really that bothered. I don’t really get it. Yeh, I can read the first page of Howl, struggle through the second and say to myself, fuck it, I’d rather be doing something else, reading something else. I don’t buy into the myth of Jack Kerouc writing On the Road, high on speed in one fell swoop, an angel hipster writing a new bible. I like the idea of it, just as I like the idea of setting up a non-establishment establishment of disembodied poets to authenticate the necessary inauthenticity in poetry so that it doesn’t belong to the man. Really, I don’t give a shit. Think of this one. Howl and other poems. What were the other poems in that slim volume? Sex didn’t begin 50 –odd-years ago and neither did obscenity. Poets they fuck you up.