Qulture Shock: Howl

Posted on January 10, 2011 by


The New Brunswick Film Coop has just announced its schedule of films for January through April 2011.

Notable among the series is Howl, which is showing on January 17, 8pm at Tilley Hall, UNB Campus. From the NB Film Coop’s review:

“Howl is a multi-layered mosaic exploring the Eisenhower-era events surrounding Allen Ginsberg and the publication of what would become one of the Beat Generation’s seminal works. The poem, Howl, incited feverous controversy with its provocative, visceral imagery of explicit sexuality and illicit drug use, leading to obscenity charges being filed against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poem’s publisher and owner of City Lights Bookstore. Using a documentary-style approach, filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk, Paragraph 175) masterfully interweave three different elements into an artful ode to the masterpiece: the dramatic court proceedings of the 1957 obscenity trial, an unpublished Time Magazine interview and an inventive animation of the prophetic poem.

James Franco (Milk, 127 Hours) turns in a remarkable, nuanced performance that captures the young, playful Ginsberg, with all his earnestness, intelligence and sexual charisma. This is a role that showcases Franco’s true star power. For those unfamiliar with Allen Ginsberg, the New Jersey born poet was kicked out of Columbia University and subsequently found himself drawn to the underground bohemian art crowd, where disinhibition and mind-opening stimulants ruled the day. Struggling with inner turmoil, including his homosexuality, Ginsberg found his new friends to be just the inspirational catalyst he needed to give voice to his anger, disillusion and idealism through poetry. Upon publication, customs officials seized 520 copies of the poem on March 25, 1957, enroute from the printer in London.”

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl has been one of my greatest inspirations as a poet. The first reading I did at Travesty Café was a reading of America by Ginsberg. I call it “my national anthem.”

Posted in: Qulture Shock