6.7/10
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54 user 163 critic

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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$617,334, 6 February 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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]
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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
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User Reviews

 
Poetry brought to life
19 January 2011 | by napierslogsSee all my reviews

Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl is brought to life with a mix of adult animation, court-room drama and the beliefs of a young hero of sorts. Ginsberg represented the new generation of the young, confused nonconformists and he wrote poetry that ignited the wrath of the older generation that rejected their freethinking ways. The great thing about "Howl" is that I didn't know any of that before the film, it was able to educate me about a remarkable young man and literary voice.

Howl was accused of being "obscene" and threatened to be banned. The film smartly used the Supreme Court definition of "obscenity", and the reading of the poem itself to help me come to an understanding of the charges laid against the poem. James Franco as Ginsberg helped me come to an understanding of what the man behind the poem was all about.

The animated sequences were abstract and detached me from the film but I'm sure to all the artists out there they represented the poem accurately. The revelations into the mind of Ginsberg were done subtly and wonderfully connected with the arguments in the trial. "Howl" is a well done film that should be enjoyed by everyone with an appreciation of poetry and of poetry in our history.


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