Howl: James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. {Videos}

Via elephant journal
on Jan 26, 2010
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howl movie franco ginsberg

“Today, it is still a violation of FCC obscenity rules to broadcast the words of Howl.”

Allen Ginsberg woulda loved the overly hunky, progressive, grounded James Franco playing his poetical breathy self as a young man, following the story of his rise to infamy through the courts of obscenity-afraid America:

Video clips from forthcoming movie:

Photo: Buzzsugar, which also has a great writeup.

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.

How did HOWL make production before ON THE ROAD, that most cinematic of Great American Novels!? While Howl is brilliant, it’s difficult, less of a story than a kaleidoscopic heart-wringing chant. Here’s the dealio:

James Franco Will Star in Allen Ginsberg Biopic Howl
BY LEON NEYFAKH Bookish hunk James Franco, who spent his free time during the filming of his latest movie reading the collected works of Thomas Pynchon, has signed on to star in the Gus Van Sant-produced Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl. The movie, written and directed by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, will also feature David Strathairn, Alan Alda, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker and Paul Rudd. According to Hollywood Reporter, the film will focus on the obscenity trial surrounding the 1957 American publication of Ginsberg’s most famous poem, “Howl.”
Hopefully Mr. Franco will not go overboard in his attempts to mimic Ginsberg: if he goes too far...for the rest, click here.

Hollywood Reporter:
Among the real-life characters featured in the film are prosecuting attorney Ralph McIntosh (Strathairn), Judge Clayton Horn (Alda), prosecution witness Professor David Kirk (Daniels), radio personality and prosecution witness Gail Potter (Parker) and literary critic and defense witness Luther Nichols (Rudd).
“Fifty years later, Ginsberg’s vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it,” [one of the film’s writers/directors, Jeffrey] Friedman said. “It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion.”

Here’s an excerpt from MTV NEWS:

…legendary poet Allen Ginsberg. The actor gave the news exclusively to MTV News, revealing that he’ll be tackling the writer for a new movie called, appropriately enough, “Howl,” after Ginsberg’s famous poem written at the height of the Beat Generation.

“It’s by a two time Oscar Award winner named Rob Epstein, he’s actually a documentary film director,” Franco said of the project. “So I’m gonna play the young Allen Ginsberg, the days before he went bald and gained weight. The early Howl days.”

Since the film is a documentary, Franco will presumably re-enact several moments from Ginsberg’s early life, a la the recent “Chicago Ten.” Is Franco himself up on the era?

“Oh certainly,” the man formerly known as Harry Osborne insisted. “I’ve certainly read ‘Howl.’ I was very into the beatniks when I was in high school, and I still am. So I certainly have read Howl many times.”…



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7 Responses to “Howl: James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. {Videos}”

  1. via Reuters re Sundance's opening night, excerpt:
    Earlier on Thursday, Redford told reporters that in recent years he has felt Sundance was "sliding" from its original vision because indie film began to mesh with studio movies.

    In fact, some of the best indie films of recent years were products of divisions of Hollywood studios that worked in the arena for low-budget moviemaking. "Slumdog Millionaire," for instance, was originally backed by Warner Independent Pictures, a now defunct unit of Warner Bros.

    "HOWL" has independence in its DNA, its filmmakers said. It began life as a documentary in workshops at the Sundance Institute, where it was transformed into a feature film by co-writers and directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

  2. Peter Hale says:

    we've added a batch of reviews on the Ginsberg Estate's blog. There's a great one from Vanity Fair that covers the project starting from the shoot last spring that really captures some of the magic

  3. Ginsberg woulda lloooovvovovovovoved Franco playing him.

  4. Greg says:

    Waylon, your Mom may remember an event in Boulder (in Mackey) many years ago. Leary was main speaker. A band named Zephyr played. Ginsberg appeared out of nowhere, unexpected, and ran down the aisle to the stage shouting out Howl. To be honest, he did not win me over as a fan, but it was a moment to remember.

  5. […] schlub, was captivated.  There were stories of crazy college kids running through the woods listening to Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and a mysterious tribe in Mexico who run ultramarathons for fun and McDougall’s own […]