Shamefully, I have to admit that I read it entirely because it was the 'cool' thing to do. Yes, I was that kind of teenager. I read it because to be able to sit on the train to Leeds reading Kerouac's classic American novel seemed like pretty much the most excellent thing I could do with my time. Yes, I may have been wearing clear lens wayfarer glasses whilst I did it. I may or may not have owned a straw trilby that year. I was a little (read: a lot) obsessed with Pete Doherty. Can you see why I would think that reading Beatnik literature was one step closer to eternal coolness?The thing is...I kind of fell in love.
It was Dean Moriarty's fault. On The Road's adventure catalyst, Moriarty was everything that I wanted to be. He didn't give fuck about anything, or, it seemed, anyone. He had as much fun as he wanted, whenever he wanted to. He was the embodiment of going with the flow. He was perfect.
James Franco plays Allen Ginsberg. Have you ever seen a sentence that is so full of good things? The film Howl is four small stories rolled into one, the first being the story of how and, crucially, why Ginsberg wrote Howl. The second is Ginsberg performing the poem for the first time in front of his friends and contempories. The third is a court hearing on whether the book should be banned for being obscene, and the fourth Ginsberg being interviewed around the time of the court case.
Because I am a bonafide geek, I have watched many, many videos of Allen Ginsberg performing his poetry on youtube, so when James Franco started talking in Howl, I freaked out. He sounds EXACTLY like him. It's eerie, it really is. And also absolutely astonishing.
If you can find a cinema that is showing this film, GO AND SEE IT. If not, try and see it some other way. It's magnificent.
Aaron Tveit and James FrancoPeter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsburg.
On the subject of films, they are also currently finishing off a film adaptation of Kerouac's On The Road. That in itself is a beautiful thing, but the fact that is stars Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and (I die a little bit with joy every time I think this) Garrett Hedlund, is an absolute dream. And Garrett Hedlund is playing Dean Moriarty. Congratulations to whoever cast him. I suspect that they snuck into my brain at some point and stole all my (slightly perverse and literature themed) dreams. I don't know when it's due to be released (possibly November?) but I can almost guarentee that it will be my new favourite film.