Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
-Allen Ginsburg, Howl
When Howl first popped into Netflix’s Instant Stream, I knew I had to see it. I had to lightly study the Beat Generation for my American Literature class, and Allen Ginsburg was involved among all of the greats. Even though I now have a great appreciation for Ginsburg, I’m sort of surprised that he ended up being the normal one out of the generation. Read Howl, see why.
Howl is about Ginsburg, and the court case involving his radical poem. It was 1959, a very prude time, and the case was about Howl being obscene literature. The poem is read throughout the movie by Ginsburg (played by James Franco, who I thought did a great job) with animation supporting the theme of struggle and change.
To be honest, I’m indifferent about Howl. I like the style of the movie, the fact that it’s shot in two color formats: I guess the black and white is to highlight the struggles of his life, and the color representing his content with it after reaching success and everlasting love. However, while I understand the addition to the animation, I find it distracting. It just doesn’t fit with the movie at all- if it’s a period movie, the animation should reflect it as well. It would’ve been neat to see a perverted and violent Disney-styled animation. However, the message is clearly more important- the right for art to be treated as such, no matter how perverted or obscene one might think of it.
Would I recommend this? Yes, if you’re a fan of the Beat Generation and art films. I think it’s a good movie, and it made me more appreciate about living in today’s time when we have that freedom. Read Howl, watch Howl, then promptly howl.