6.7/10
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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.

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Franco ... Allen Ginsberg
Todd Rotondi Todd Rotondi ... Jack Kerouac
Jon Prescott ... Neal Cassady
Aaron Tveit ... Peter Orlovsky
David Strathairn ... Ralph McIntosh
Jon Hamm ... Jake Ehrlich
Andrew Rogers ... Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Bob Balaban ... Judge Clayton Horn
Mary-Louise Parker ... Gail Potter
Heather Klar Heather Klar ... Jack's Girlfriend
Kaydence Frank Kaydence Frank ... Allen's Girlfriend (as Kadance Frank)
Treat Williams ... Mark Schorer
Joe Toronto ... Sailor
Johary Ramos ... Hustler
Nancy Spence Nancy Spence ... Neal's Girlfriend
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 August 2010 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Uivo See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$51,185, 26 September 2010

Gross USA:

$617,334
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Doppio urlo (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Tonight at the Sands
Written by Jack Arel and Jean-Claude Petit (as Jean-Caude Petit)
ZFC Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of FirstCom Music
See more »

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User Reviews

It's about the poem
22 July 2011 | by birckSee all my reviews

I'm surprised that this film worked as well as it did, and that it has been received as well as it has here. I read Howl about 5 years after Ginsberg wrote it, when I was in high school, and, like it or not, it became part of my thinking in the fifty years since then. Still in high school, I could quote passages from the poem at my friends, who would follow up with the next passage, etc. Boooring. But if you had told me that a film would be made about it, with a script constructed of trial transcripts and interviews in the public record, alternating with a recreation of Ginsberg's first public (paying-public; there was ONE previous reading of the full poem) reading of the poem, I wouldn't have expected much. And I would have been wrong. It's well-done and well-acted, and no excuses are made for anything about Ginsberg or his work. I was dismayed at first to see the poem interpreted into animation, but the filmmakers were savvy enough to produce the animation in the style of the times, i.e., 1955, when Disney's Fantasia was still the state of the art, and the animation in Howl could have come out of the Night on Bald Mountain section. In the end, it worked, I think, by keeping the viewer visually in the world of the poem itself, rather than in the biographical material about Ginsberg or the trial and the litigants. So if you want to watch a movie about a poem, and the poet and his friends, but mainly about the poem, this one does a pretty good job.


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