You may have noticed that here at slamxhype we are heavily influenced by the Beat movement which included writers like Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, so we were incredibly excited to hear about “Howl”, the new biopic of leading Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
The movie, which will kick off this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is named after the writer’s best known work, an epic and freeform poem in four parts, Howl, and focuses on the obscenity trial which followed its publication in the mid 50s for it’s fiercely provocative examination of race, drugs, mental illness, religion and sexuality.
Directed by documentary makers Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein, the movie is based on indepth research and interviews with Ginsberg’s friends and acquaintances. Originally intended to be a straight documentary the directors eventually decided to create a dramatised account of the the first ever reading of the poem (to an audience which included Jack Kerouac) at the Six Gallery, San Francisco in 1955 and the subsequent trial in 1957, with stars James Franco (as Ginsberg) Jeff Daniels and Jon Hamm (of Ad Men), and intercut it with an actual recording of Ginsberg’s 1955 performance over trippy animated sequences created by illustrator, and Former Ginsberg collaborator, Eric Drooker.
There have been several attempts to document the Beat movement in movie and documentary form, but none have been truly succesful, it remains to be seen if this is the film to do it, but Ginsberg’s turbulent personal life and the furor that his poem created means this will be be a fascinating film regardless.
It premiers at the Sundance film festival on the 21st January, and will hopefully be released globally shortly afterwards.
Here Allen Ginsberg read “Howl” in the video below.