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Allen Ginsberg Biopic, Howl, Gets Stellar Cast and Crew

When I was in high school, I discovered Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl and it astounded me. Ever since, it's been that book on my bookshelf that consistently beckons me to pick it up and read it again, and decades later, it's just as relevant to our times as it was in the 1960s. At the time of its publication, however, some folks were not so enamored with Ginsberg's words.


To commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the publication of Howl, there's a biopic in the works, focusing on "the obscenity trial launched to censor Ginsberg's groundbreaking book-length poem." James Franco will play Ginsberg, and the cast just expanded to include David Strathairn, Alan Alda, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker and Paul Rudd. For more details, read more.

The Hollywood Reporter continues:

Among the real-life characters featured in the film are prosecuting attorney Ralph McIntosh (Strathairn), Judge Clayton Horn (Alda), prosecution witness Professor David Kirk (Daniels), radio personality and prosecution witness Gail Potter (Parker) and literary critic and defense witness Luther Nichols (Rudd).

"Fifty years later, Ginsberg's vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it," [one of the film's writers/directors, Jeffrey] Friedman said. "It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion."

A documentarian, Jeffrey Friedman is making his feature directorial debut alongside Rob Epstein. The part that intrigues me is that this is the duo, Friedman and Epstein, behind the stunning and Oscar-winning 1984 documentary The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. Director Gus Van Sant, whose biopic about Harvey Milk, Milk, is coming out in October, will executive produce this Ginsberg biopic.

I'm going to be following this production closely. What do you think of this? Have you read Howl or anything else by Ginsberg?

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