6.8/10
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53 user 166 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
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]
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Connections

Referenced in Doppio urlo (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Dim the Lights
Written by Teddy Lasry
ZFC Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of FirstCom Music
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User Reviews

 
Mr. Ginsberg I love thee...
8 June 2010 | by ihrtfilmsSee all my reviews

Watched in June 2010 I've never read Howl or really have had much interest in Allen Ginsberg, but having seen this delight of a film, things have changed.

The film takes a look at several key moments in Ginsbergs life. In B&W we see Ginsberg recite his poem Howl: there are also insights into his friendships with Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and his relationship with Peter Orlovsky. The reading of the poem is segmented throughout the film and in between these segments we see Ginsberg being interviewed, whilst we never see the interviewer, we do see Ginsberg talk about his life. The other main element is the trial of Howl, which was deemed obscene. All these aspects combine well and it never feels disjointed; they are nicely contrasted and offer great insights into the life of Ginsberg.

Add to this some wonderful animation that plays during much of the recital of Howl; it creates something of a reality to the poem and made it even more stunning and graphic and tragic and beautiful. The trial scenes are fascinating with the constant questioning by the prosecution as to what certain lines or words meant. And how wonderful the judge, who seemed to have made his decision well before the trial was over. Thank goodness for him.

James Franco plays Ginsberg and does so well, although he doesn't have too much to do, he is mostly either being interviewed or reciting; but it is in this he impresses, the passion, the intensity of the piece shines through: the ending of Howl, known as 'Footnote to Howl' is brilliantly spoken and I found it hugely emotional. The film has a slight doco feel to it at times, but it is otherwise an absorbing and wonderfully told account.


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