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The Source: The Story of the Beats and the Beat Generation (1999)

Traces the Beats from Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac's meeting in 1944 at Columbia University to the deaths of Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs in 1997. Three actors provide dramatic ... See full summary »


Chuck Workman


Chuck Workman

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3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Depp ... Jack Kerouac
Dennis Hopper ... William S. Burroughs
John Turturro ... Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg ... Himself
Philip Glass ... Himself
Robert Creeley Robert Creeley ... Himself
Ann Charters Ann Charters ... Herself
George Steade George Steade ... Himself
David Amram David Amram ... Himself
William S. Burroughs ... Himself
Ed Sanders Ed Sanders ... Himself
Gregory Corso Gregory Corso ... Himself
Kyle Roderick Kyle Roderick ... Himself - Corso biographer
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti ... Himself
Ken Kesey ... Himself (archive footage)


Traces the Beats from Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac's meeting in 1944 at Columbia University to the deaths of Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs in 1997. Three actors provide dramatic interpretations of the work of these three writers, and the film chronicles their friendships, their arrival into American consciousness, their travels, frequent parodies, Kerouac's death, and Ginsberg's politicization. Their movement connects with bebop, John Cage's music, abstract expressionism, and living theater. In recent interviews, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kesey, Ferlinghetti, Mailer, Jerry Garcia, Tom Hayden, Gary Snyder, Ed Sanders, and others measure the Beats' meaning and impact. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

23 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Fonte See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,821, 29 August 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$360,895, 21 May 2000
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Did You Know?


Filmmaker Jason Rosette appears briefly in the scene at the student center during the reading of Kerouac's "On the Road". See more »


Features Not Necessarily the News (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

Too Much of a Love Letter
15 July 2004 | by konky2000See all my reviews

This film is simply a love letter to the three writers Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs. The film offers no dissenting viewpoints, and provides very little evidence to back up its claims that these three men were somehow 'The Source' for all counter culture movements that followed them.

This is a preposterous claim. The Beats were simply part of a long tradition of counter culture art that began in earnest in the mid 19th Century.

Anyways, outside of some sloppy history, the film does at least seem to capture the spirit of who the Beats were. What it fails to do, however, is convince me that I should still actually care who they were. So, for a fan this film will be a joy ride, but for people, like me, who have always been somewhat ambivilant about the Beats, it doesn't do much convincing.

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