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The Broken Tower (2011)

5.2
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 962 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 11 critic

A biography of American poet Hart Crane who committed suicide at the age of 32 by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Richard Abate ...
Father Crane
...
Mother Crane
Paul Mariani ...
Alfred Stieglitz
Shandor Garrison ...
Gorham Munson
Stacey Miller ...
Mrs. Cowley
Dylan Goodwin ...
Young Truck Driver
John Morrow ...
Young Sailor
Ivo Juhani ...
French Man in Library
...
American Man in Paris
Fallon Goodsen ...
American Woman in Paris
Caroline Aragon ...
French Cafe Owner
Sebastian Celis ...
Deckhand
Will Rawls ...
Factory Worker
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Storyline

A look at the dreams, unapologetic love of men , manic highs and depressive, death-haunted lows of early 20th century rebellious, self-destructive visionary poet Hart Crane from his early years as the son of a wealthy Cleveland businessman through his sojourns in New York, Cuba and Paris. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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The Truth is Indecent.


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Release Date:

20 June 2011 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Shot in three countries and 30 locations in 15 days. See more »

Quotes

Hart Crane: Isadora Duncan was incredible. Magnificent! But the crowd, what a bunch of conservative bores. So after, she comes back, breast exposed, she tells them to all go home and read the Calamus section from Whitman.
Gorham Munson: I'm sure most don't even know Whitman.
Hart Crane: [laughing] It was, it was incredible! Breast hanging out! Nipple exposed! Telling them that - that truth isn't beautiful. That in fact, it's quite indecent.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hart Crane: An Exegesis (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Stumbling
{Performed by Ray Miller & His Orchesra
Written by Edward Confrey
Published by EMI Catalog Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Old Time Victrola Music
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User Reviews

 
A Brave Little Film that Finds a New Way of Communicating
14 February 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE BROKEN TOWER will likely never be on the list of best films made, so why award it five stars? Because this very fine art piece is the result of the devotion of James Franco to his craft. He worked directly with Boston College professor Paul Mariani, the author of a half dozen volumes of poetry, as well as several biographies of 20th-century American poets, including William Carlos Williams, John Berryman, and Robert Lowell: Franco based THE BROKEN TOWER on Mariani's similarly titled 2000 biography of Crane.

The subject of the film is the life and creative genius of Hart Crane, (July 21, 1899 - April 27, 1932) an American poet who found both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that is difficult, highly stylized, and very ambitious in its scope. In his most ambitious work, The Bridge, Crane sought to write an epic poem in the vein of The Waste Land that expressed something more sincere and optimistic than the ironic despair that Crane found in Eliot's poetry. In the years following his suicide at the age of 32, Crane has come to be seen as one of the most influential poets of his generation.

James Franco wrote the screenplay based on book by Paul Mariani, directed and edited the film and acted the main role of Hart Crane. Crane was a nearly disconsolate man who refused to follow his wealthy father's business, longing instead to be a poet. Born in Ohio he traveled to New York (the place he always considered home), to Cuba, and to Paris searching for his poetic voice. He was a gay man in an era when his lifestyle was always under threat, he had a lover (Vince Jolivette) early on in an affair that was filled with passion, and in his travels he seemed to find his true love in Emile (Michael Shannon) that endured the manic highs and depressive, death-haunted lows that befell this self -destructive visionary poet. He attempted suicide at least once and finally ended his life in a successful suicide at the young age of 32.

Franco breathes life into Hart Crane, offering more understanding of this enigmatic genius than we have ever been afforded. In making the film Franco uses his younger brother Dave Franco to depict the young Hart and selects his small cast wisely. The film is completely in black and white and is in the format of 'Voyages' - each voyage takes us through a distinct part of Hart's life: his gay loves, his poetry readings, his forays to Cuba and to Paris and his lonely hours of sitting before an old typewriter where he created the major epics of poetry that remain some of the finest ever written by an American poet.

The film is choppy, not unlike the manner in which Hart's mind worked in bits and pieces, always immersed in thoughts of the sea, the labor of common man, of the Brooklyn Bridge which would play the major role in his most famous epic poem THE BRIDGE, and of the fellow artists whose work he so admired. There is a strange musical score (the work of Neil Benezra) which is long on choral chanting, and a quality of gritty cinematography achieved by Christiana Vorn. The technique of the making of this film matches the vision of James Franco in continuing to visit the lives of isolated geniuses. The dialogue, what little there is, is Crane's poetry as spoken by Franco.

For many this film will seem self-indulgent on Franco's part. And perhaps it partially is. But the flavor of this gay American poet of the 1920s and the reflections of America at that time ring true. THE BROKEN TOWER is not a biopic of Hart Crane. It is an elegy.

Grady Harp


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