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Howl (2010)

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As Allen Ginsberg talks about his life and art, his most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.


(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Todd Rotondi ...
Jack Kerouac
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Heather Klar ...
Jack's Girlfriend
Kaydence Frank ...
Allen's Girlfriend (as Kadance Frank)
Nancy Spence ...
Neal's Girlfriend


It's San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society's reaction (the obscenity trial), and animation that echoes the poem's surreal style. All three coalesce in hybrid that dramatizes the birth of a counterculture. Written by Sundance Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Obscenity Trial That Started a Revolution. The Poem That Rocked a Generation.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including language and images, and for some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

27 August 2010 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Uivo  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$51,185, 26 September 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$617,334, 6 February 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shot in 14 days around New York City in March/April 2009. See more »


About 29 minutes in, Franco (as Ginsberg) lights up a cigarette. You can clearly see a layer of digital shading (meant to darken Franco's beard) that is overlaid onto his face, esp. his left jaw. This shading also goes over Franco's hand in this scene. See more »


[first lines]
Allen Ginsberg: "Howl" for Carl Salomon. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
[continues reading but unheard, credits roll]
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Referenced in Doppio urlo (2015) See more »


Dim the Lights
Written by Teddy Lasry
Courtesy of FirstCom Music
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User Reviews

a howl at an unfeeling uninterested universe
15 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

In 1955 Allan Ginsberg sat in a cafe in Berkeley California and wrote a poem. He was asked to perform the poem at a reading and at first refused, but changed his mind after completing a rough draft of Howl. The poem was published and confiscated when it went through customs after being printed in London. A trial of the publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti ensued. What should we make of the poem, and of the trial? The film intertwines the poem with the trial in a most illuminating fashion. It shows us Ginsberg's milieu using a mix of archival footage and enactments. Much of the trial, and the judges final comments make it clear that is indeed the milieu and the language used to express that milieu which make the poem great.

The film has a heavy weight Hollywood cast and is very well dramatized. The use of graphics helps illuminate the poem and keeps us engaged during the readings, particularly given the difficulty of the imagery.

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