THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALLEN GINSBERG Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: February 17, 1994

Starring: Allen Ginsberg; cameo appearances by Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William F. Buckley, Norman Mailer, Dick Cavett, Abbie Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Timothy Leary, & William Burroughs

Genre: Documentary

Audience: Adults & older teenagers

Rating: Not rated by MPAA

Runtime: 82 minutes

Distributor: First Run Features

Director: Jerry Aronson

Executive Producer:

Producer: Jerry Aronson

Writer: Jerry Aronson

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Content:

(Ab, FR, A/D, H, Ho, L, NA, PC, S) A fusion of Jewish tradition with Buddhism marks Ginsberg's personal pantheon; drug use lionized by Mr. Ginsberg & Timothy Leary, among others; humanist perspective; passing references to Mr. Ginsberg's homosexuality & his homosexual marriage; political correctness subtly reinforced by the offhand acceptance of his homosexual "union"; and, counterculture thought & practice.

Summary:

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALLEN GINSBERG, a documentary about the Beat Generation, is a retrospective of our recent radical generations told from Ginsberg's perspective as a counterculture poet, activist, pacifist, and quasi-Buddhist. Although this film will never receive wide distribution (except, perhaps on television), it is valuable as an example of the continual chipping away of Christian foundations within the lexicon of American experience. In the passage of time, when Mr. Ginsberg is lauded for being a great poet, he will carry with him into history the baggage of his homosexuality and apostasy which led so many of our youth astray.

Review:

In 1956, Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" and Allen Ginsberg wrote "Howl"--and the Beat Generation was on. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALLEN GINSBERG is the only authorized film biography of Mr. Ginsberg's remarkably long career. The film is a retrospective of our recent generations told from the perspective of this counterculture poet, activist, pacifist, and quasi-Buddhist. His poetic style (displayed generously throughout the film in readings of his own works) is one that, while metered, is yet a stream-of-consciousness cacophony of sights, sounds and genuine emotional accessibility.

This documentary is probably not going to be widely distributed, so its impact will be much smaller than a mainstream movie. Its audience is likely to be either the already converted (to nihilistic agnosticism), or someone with an arts background auditing it for the historical value. The risk is more insidious--it is the continual chipping away of Christian foundations within the lexicon of American experience. In the passage of time, when Mr. Ginsberg is lauded for being a great poet, he will carry with him into history the baggage of his homosexuality and apostasy. Mr. Ginsberg warns at the end of this film, as a sort of obit, "Don't follow my path to extinction." Sadly, few will remember this; most will mythologize him instead.

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