What or who is Big Joy? Big Joy is James Broughton, pioneer of experimental cinema in the 1940s, and trickster poet who was a precursor to the beat movement in San Francisco. BIG JOY is a ...
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Focuses on the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) and its 'collective spirit' in cinema. The purpose of film as a cultural tool is examined. Based on celebrated sociologist Siegfried Kracauer's seminal book 'From Caligari to Hitler' (1947).
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What or who is Big Joy? Big Joy is James Broughton, pioneer of experimental cinema in the 1940s, and trickster poet who was a precursor to the beat movement in San Francisco. BIG JOY is a documentary that explores the twists and turns in the life of a very colorful character, plus how art has the power to save lives and make the world a better place. Broughton is a role model of living one's life to the fullest, or "follow your own weird" as he called it. BIG JOY features interviews with experts, colleagues, friends and lovers, plus images from his films, and the words of many of his kooky poems. Written by
The movie title expresses so much: the film is both a big joy to watch and a remarkable and unique adventure alongside the subject matter James Broughton. I marveled at why our culture doesn't know this incredible figure more, but the film brings his world and wit to attention with great style. The documentary is well crafted, skillfully taking us on the journey exploring a very complex and fascinating man. It's also wonderful to see the slice of life of what it was like after WWII, the poet scene in San Francisco Renaissance, the spiritual and sexual liberation of the 60's, and the "blessed years of our lives" as James describes the 70's.
I've seen it more than once now at several festivals, with new details emerging upon each viewing. The filmmakers have created a marvelous visual landscape with beautiful music that work together in such poetic harmony. Seeing it with the audience reactions amplifies the experience, sharing in the laughter and gasps of both delight and during moments that pull on the heart-strings. Although James Broughton's life was not all cheery - in fact to me the movie is more powerful for showing not only how he battled with depression, but made some difficult choices that affected his family happiness. The movie doesn't skip over the tough facts, but paints a well-rounded portrait. We get to see how James Broughton's life moved through those emotions to a joyously happy ending, with self-discovery and a true love - and it is such an inspiration.
Like all good documentaries, it made me want to know more about the subject, fascinated by the literary and film making genius, who really deserves to be more well known outside his California conclave. I think this is a fantastic film, not only for queer audiences, but anyone who loves literature, poetry, film making, history, Zen,self-realization, and self-expression.
Indeed this film is a BIG JOY!
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