In a previous post about the 2012 documentary THE BEAT HOTEL, I mentioned that the film dealt with, among other topics, poet Allen Ginsberg‘s sojourn in Paris during 1957. Ginsberg was in Paris awaiting the results of the U.S. obscenity trial related to HOWL, the book-length poem Lawrence Ferlinghetti had published in San Francisco through his City Lights Press.

The 2010 film HOWL, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, covers a range of subjects — including the 1957 obscenity trial — in some cases using experimental techniques (such as breathtaking animation of the poem).

I particularly enjoyed Jon Hamm (MAD MEN‘s Don Draper) as defense counsel Jake Ehrlich and Bob Balaban as Judge Clayton Horn. James Franco also turns in an admirable performance as Ginsberg.

I had very low expectations when I borrowed this film (HOWL) from the library — I didn’t think there was any way to do justice to the subject matter. Basically, I expected a Hollywood botch job. Count me wrong!  I was enraptured and enthralled throughout the movie, which features the entire text of Howl in animation such as I’ve never seen before.

HOWL, the movie, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, is original, respectful, and a fine testament to Allen Ginsberg, one of America’s most important poets. Highly recommended.

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