PROBABLY NO WORK of American literature of the mid-twentieth century has taken on so many identities as Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “Howl”: Beat anthem, First Amendment cause célèbre, Lower East Side fringe festival. It’s safe to say that even those who have never read the poem would recognize its haunting opening lines: “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.” It’s even safer to say that few of its admirers would have considered “Howl” a likely subject for a motion picture. Who would make a poem into a movie anyway? That’s even more unlikely than Ginsberg appearing in a Gap ad!
Nevertheless, with their new film Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have managed to do just thatforging a highly original solution to the thorny problems inherent in the task.
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