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William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (2010)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 12 December 2010 (Chile)
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William S. Burroughs: featuring never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs' adding machine estate, he ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred Aldrich ...
Himself
...
Herself
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself
...
Himself
Victor Bockris ...
(archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Harold Chapman
...
Himself
Dennis M. Dailey ...
(as Dr. Dennis M. Dailey)
Diane DiPrima ...
Herself
Marcus Ewert
...
Herself - Hostess
...
(archive footage)
John Giorno
James Grauerholz ...
(archive footage)
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Storyline

William S. Burroughs: featuring never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs' adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had an important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century. William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering,... Written by Yony Leyser

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

12 December 2010 (Chile)  »

Also Known As:

William S. Burroughs: O anthropos mesa tou  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$160,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,510, 21 November 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$46,380, 6 February 2011
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1.78 : 1 / (high definition)
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User Reviews

 
Great introduction for Burroughs virgins
6 October 2011 | by See all my reviews

It's quite a brave idea to condense an incredible life into a 90 minute documentary. Yony Leyser has produced an interesting and sometimes enlightening experience even for myself, who has read much of Burroughs's work, and many books about him. For those of you who don't know, William Seward Burroughs was born in 1914 within a very prosperous family (The Burroughs Adding Machine Co.), but a perpetual rebel. Primarily a writer - most notably for The Naked Lunch, which was published in 1959 and immediately courted controversy due to it's explicit nature - Burroughs explored painting, film, amongst others, but always with the intention of experimentation and subversion. His writing technique, The Cut-ups (where pages of text can be cut up and rearranged to conjure word and sentence juxtaposition), was of course revolutionary, and the style was adopted from, particularly, musicians such as David Bowie and The Dead Kennedy's.

Burroughs's life was lived very different from the rest of the world. A junkie, homosexual who fit in no group throughout the 1940's, 1950's and '60's, he used his alienation to create the persona that would later be called "Il Hombre Invisible" (amongst many other "nick-names"). He was a mentor to the Beat generation of writers, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who were also witness to a tragedy in 1951 at a party, when then wife Joan and Burroughs executed the William Tell trick, where an apple was placed on her head. Unfortunately he missed the apple and shot her in the head, killing her.

Each "chapter" of the film are introduced with some nifty animations using coat-hanger wire, and the structure builds to Burroughs's rise in the New York scene of the 1970's. He was a celebrity within the world of punk rock, art and literature, and seemed for the first time to fit into the popular culture; his debased and transgressive imagery very fitting within this context. He would later collaborate with the (mostly) Seattle rock scene in the early '90's, even collaborating with Kurt Cobain with a sound scape to Burroughs' distinctive voice and words.

Whilst the film cannot completely penetrate the full life, philosophy and art of this visually unusual man, it does produce an idea of him. The inclusion of new interviews with friends and colleagues does bring to the film a more emotional edge to the man. The past portrayals do focus on his "cool" in his later life; his celebrity. However, this does show the old man in a light I've never seen committed to film. We see him as an almost vulnerable man, lonely, and lost of love - his utter love for Ginsberg seems to have haunted his life. Essential viewing for any Burroughs fan, and an incredibly decent introduction of the man's genius to any Burroughs virgin. For those of you who have not reveled in his transgressive imagery, his paranoid fascination with control, and the governmental forces behind these, you need to get some of his brilliant, surreal, and disturbing writing.

www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com


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