Howl is a film about the poem by Allan Ginsberg. It’s one of those rare films that uses the potential of the moving image to do more than tell a story – it creates a mood and an experience based on the rich imagery in the written word that is moving and reflective. The film is part dramatised biography of this time in Ginsberg’s life, part documentary and part symbolic interpretation of the poem.
Howl is one of the key works of the Beat movement in the 1950s, and its publisher was charged with obscenity. This trial, and that of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover a few years later, defined the conflict between state censorship and freedom of speech in the twentieth century. It’s a wonderful film that anyone interested in modern poetry should appreciate.