Howl * Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman (2010)

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A film based on a poem? Why not? “Based on” is not a good description though. Actually the film has three stories. Allan Ginsberg (1926-1997 even I had heard of the man), the author of the gigantic poem, gives an interview about his life and how it lead to his poem (this interviewed is played I suppose), there are shots of that life of Ginsberg. The second story is that of the court hearings because of the suit about the obscenity of the poem and whether or not the poem has any literary merit. The third part is the most interesting. These are surrealistic animations based on the poem. The poem itself portrays in flashbackscenes in which Ginsberg reads it in some poetry-club and some parts are quoted in other situations, such as in court or in the interview. I do not care much for the flood of incoherent sentenses and words, but it is funny to see that the poem unleashes so much debate. The ironic thing is that would the poem have been wholly insignificant, there would never have been a lawsuit, but that very lawsuit boosted its fame and the effect prosecutor was completely opposital to his intention. The undercurrent of the whole event is of course the discussion if people are free to speak their minds, even using obscene language and talk about obscene subjects (homosexuality in this example) or if the state has the right to control such expressions. “Howl” is a nice film story-wise and interesting in the way it is filmed.

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