Released in July 2012, The Beat Hotel (directed by Alan Govenar) is an 82-minute documentary that tells the story of a remarkable group of artists — including many of the prominent Beats — who in 1957 converged in a cheap Paris hotel, where some of their greatest works were born.

Hotel residents included Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso along with novelist William Burroughs. Ginsberg began his magnum opus, Kaddish, in the hotel, which was located in Paris’s Latin Quarter, while Burroughs completed his most renowned work, the experimental novel Naked Lunch. Joining these Americans were artists from a variety of persuasions (photographers, painters, musicians, performance artists) who hailed from France, Britain, and other parts of the world.

I borrowed this DVD from my local library and found the film fascinating, riveting, and inspiring. It’s a story about the power of art and the power of artists to influence one another in positive ways. The most amazing part of the story was Madame Rachou, the hotel owner who only allowed artists to reside in her establishment — and charged them next to nothing to live there. She felt that artists needed time and space to create — and this was her way of acting as a patron of the arts.

A good time was had by all in The Beat Hotel — and this documentary makes you feel as if you were part of it all. Highly recommended. 

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