Who’s Crazy Enough to Make a Movie Based on an Allen Ginsberg Poem? By Peter Simek October 22nd, 2010 3:55pm
Writer and directing team Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have attempted cinematic suicide. They have tried to make a movie about a poem. Worse, they haven’t tried adapting a narrative poem, like, say, Beowulf, or El Cid, or even something like absurd like “Jabberwocky” (all works that have been adapted to the screen). No, Epstein and Friedman have chosen to make a move based on Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, a linguistically wandering, deeply subjective, surreal emotional explosion – a poem whose meaning and pleasure is derived from the abstract associations of imagery, its incessant jazz-inspired meter, and its remarkable ability to twist language until the words seem to teeter on edge between meaning and meaninglessness. In short, the filmmakers have tried a project destined to fail: to make a movie based on a work of art whose power and value is so inextricably tied to its form, you could hardly dream of translating its medium.