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"On The Road" is only the skeleton this film is fleshed out around. It is not simply the novel made into a movie. Director Walter Salles WAY expanded it. For starters, he used the scroll, not the '57 edition as the working blueprint. And a ton of the movie came from Neal, Jack & Allen's letters, Carolyn's book, the LuAnne interview, Jack's audio recordings in other words, there's a lot of stuff that's not in the novel. But it's all based on accounts, not solely Jack's account as told in that one book, scroll or not.
It's not the novel On The Road as a linear film. It's an interpretation based strongly ON that novel, but it ain't a literal filming of the storyline. It's a work of art, its own work of art, a new work of art based on an old work of art.
There's lots of cool things about it. I don't want to "spoil" it for you, but many of the specific scenes in the novel that always stood out for me are in the film. And since it's so non-linear, you don't know what's coming next. And it's, "Oh wow! It's this scene! No way!" It's so funny-cool that way. Something that Jack might spend a few paragraphs on in a 300-page novel could be 3 minutes of the 137 minute movie. And things he might cover over 20 pages aren't included at all. It's kind of a series of choice scenes portrayed.
And the cameos by Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi are to die for! That two of my favorite actors are in this in such weird and wonderful ways is just great.
And Viggo as Bill! Holy heck! Maybe the best part of the film.
And the music is GREAT. Yer gonna love it if ya love it.
There's loads of problems, big and small, but I'm not gonna mention 'em cuz maybe you won't even notice 'em. It's its own work of art, its own statement, its own piece. It's new and different and will stand (or fall) on its own. But the movie of "On The Road" now exists. And here it is 2 hours and 17 minutes. It's more large than small. It's more new than old. It's more timeless than dated.
How this is gonna play for other people will be interesting to see.
There's gonna be the Beat world's reaction, and then the non-Beat world's. Beat people in general are gonna like it cuz it's On The Road and so much more. People who have only read the one book and have it emblazoned in their brains may have trouble with how it's been expanded, or edited by the limitations of the medium. I have no idea how non-Beat-familiar people will respond. Not a clue. I think if you were predisposed this way, you'd already be there.
Oh, and there's a whole lotta sex in it. The things that are said and the things that are shown, for The Puritanical American Rating System, this is gonna be an "R" fer sure. I mean, there's hand-jobs, oral, gay, straight, three-ways, you name it and f-bombs, which actually were not in the casual vernacular of the time the way they're used in this film, and certainly not in the novel. This is definitely an adult movie. Which, if you know your On The Road, was a very G-rated book, other than the subject the sex is all off-page, and the language is clean. The movie not so much.
I look forward to experiencing this many more times, under many different circumstances, in many different mindframes, with many different people, and how it'll continue to reveal new colors and angles with each new Road adventure. It's a memorable, expansive dramatization. It's a helluva party condensed into 2 hours. It's a road trip with old friends to familiar places. But you better leave the book at home and be ready for anything.
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