Saturday, 5 May 2012

MOVIE - Howl (2010)

Howl is an experimental film that combines both animation and cinema, portraying the life of poet Allen Ginsberg (played by James Franco) and the 1957 obscenity trial of his poem 'Howl'. I've had the film's IMDB page bookmarked for over a month and finding myself with time today, I decided to watch it.

Admittedly, I don't know much about Allen Ginsberg or his poems but subsequent to this film, I have a desire to enlighten myself and read Howl (of which a good portion of it was read and analysed in the movie). I think that my lack of understanding or knowledge about the Beat Generation impeded on my experience of watching Howl, a movie I enjoyed but have no intention of watching again.

There are a couple things that I especially liked, one of them being when Allen talks about prophecy:

“At the moment of composition you don’t necessarily know what it means; it comes to mean something later. After a year or two, the meaning becomes clear ... which takes time like a photograph developing slowly. What prophecy actually is, is not knowing whether the bomb will fall in 1942, it’s knowing and feeling something which someone knows and feels in a hundred years, and maybe articulating it in a hint that they will pick up on in a hundred years.”

And while he says this, he's looking at a painting and experiencing this while we, the audience, are viewing the film itself. So here, this idea of prophecy, that an emotion can transcend through different mediums and times, is displayed on various levels, not only with the character in a film, but with the actual audience of the film itself.

The courtroom scenes stand out to me, particularly Jon Hamm's character as a lawyer defending the literary validity of the poem.This to me was the most memorable part of the movie.

"The battle of censorship will not be finally settled by your honor’s decision, but you will either add to liberal-educated thinking, or by your decision you will add fuel to the fire of ignorance. Let there be light. Let there be honesty. Let there be no running from non-existent destroyers of morals. Let there be honest understanding."

With that, I'll end this blog post with the trailer for Howl, of which I watched after the movie.


  1. I was watching Howl again and now I want to know which painting that was. I googled my question and your post came up. Did you recognise that painting? Ciao. Luca

    1. I don't know much about art (and I don't even remember what the painting looked like in the movie) but is it this one by Paul Cezanne?

      I'm sorry if it's not that one. But good luck finding it!