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The Beat Generation: An American Dream (1987)

7.5
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An investigation of the Beat Generation.

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Title: The Beat Generation: An American Dream (1987)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself - Host
David Amram ...
Himself
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself
Ray Bremser ...
Himself
...
Himself (as William Burroughs)
Carolyn Cassady ...
Herself
Neal Cassady ...
Himself (archive footage)
Clark Coolidge ...
Himself
Gregory Corso ...
Himself
Robert Creeley ...
Himself
Diane Di Prima ...
Herself (as Diane diPrima)
Larry Fagin ...
Himself
Lawrence Ferlinghetti ...
Himself
...
Himself
Abbie Hoffman ...
Himself
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Storyline

Using original film clips and interviews, this film illustrates the 1950s social movement termed the Beat Generation. Disillusioned with post-World War II America, Beat Generation writers and painters came together because they felt mainstream America was becoming out of touch with humanity and the individual. In their interviews, characters such as 'Allen Ginsberg', Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso express their disdain for a society that defines success and happiness in terms of superior technology, cars, and clothing. Those individuals discuss the false conventionality of society and the dangerous world of shock treatments and conformity in which they found themselves. Their goal is to redefine this world to reflect the endless possibilities that characterize America. Written by Anonymous

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29 September 1998 (USA)  »

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An excellent introduction to a vital literary movement.
28 February 2001 | by (Midwest) – See all my reviews

The documentary Beat Generation: An American Dream provides an excellent introduction to an extremely vital and influential 20th century literary movement. Most of the key players are featured either through interviews or archival footage. News reels, propaganda, and pop culture film footage from the 40s and 50s (rife with the superficiality peculiar to that era) provide stark contrast to the free spirited ideals set forth by the key Beat exponents.

Some of the most compelling moments of the film were the segments featuring the writers reading from their works. It doesn't get any better than Jack Kerouac expressively reading from _On The Road_ while Steve Allen effortlessly accompanies him on piano. Just as moving was the excerpt of Allan Ginsberg's furious reading of _Howl_ and his sad and poignant recollection of his beloved mother.

Of course there is no better way to learn about the Beat writers than to actually read their works. But, if it's a film introduction you want, this is the one to watch.


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