The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg

Director: Jerry Aronson Cast: Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Ken Kesey

DVD (Wide Screen / B&W / 2 PACK)

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In 1955, poet Allen Ginsberg summed up the greatest fears of his generation in a landmark poem appropriately titled "Howl." As a result of that defining piece of prose, Ginsberg would become an icon of the Beat Generation. Inspired by Ginsberg's powerful personality and captivating charisma as a performer, filmmaker Jerry Aronson procured every film clip of the poet that he could find and compiled it into a comprehensive documentary tracing the life and times of the man who never backed down from his beliefs. From Ginsberg's early experiences alongside such American icons as Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and William Burroughs to his historical clash with William F. Buckley, and his tense confrontation with police during the 1968 Democratic Convention, Aronson's film doesn't miss a beat. Back to back readings of "Howl" from 1955 and 1992 show precisely how the poem continued to resonate decades after it was originally written, and by exploring Ginsberg's political and spiritual beliefs Aronson offers compelling insight into the mind of a counter culture legend. Originally released in 1993, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg was updated to cover the events surrounding the subject's untimely death in 1997 and to provide a final, fitting epitaph for the controversial author. The deluxe two-disc DVD release includes over six hours of bonus materials, including a "making-of" documentary, footage of Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac's grave, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg in a 1994 appearance at Naropa University, selected readings by Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Ginsberg at a 1965 City Lights Bookstore appearance, the making of the music video for "A Ballad of Skeletons," a guided tour of a Ginsberg photographic exhibition hosted by the writer himself, excerpts from Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit, footage from Ginsberg's New York City memorial, photo galleries, and trailers. Additional interviews with subjects ranging from Joan Baez to Johnny Depp, Yoko Ono, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ken Kesey show just what an expansive influence Ginsberg truly had as an artist.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/14/2013
UPC: 0767685288559
Original Release: 1993
Source: New Video Group
Presentation: [B&W, Wide Screen]
Time: 1:24:00
Sales rank: 58,477

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg: Featire And Extras
1. Chapter 1 [2:27]
2. Chapter 2 [7:23]
3. Chapter 3 [10:01]
4. Chapter 4 [18:20]
5. Chapter 5 [19:57]
6. Chapter 6 [12:56]
7. Chapter 7 [5:06]
8. Chapter 8 [4:19]
9. Chapter 9 [2:51]
Disc #2 -- Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg: Memorial And Interviews
1. Chapter 1 [27:01]

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The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Boston Globe Beating the drum for a poet-visionary Desk officers at the State Department have a term for what befalls colleagues stationed abroad: "clientism." It describes what happens when diplomats get so caught up in the opinions, attitudes, and needs of the country they're stationed in that their dispatches begin to take on a native coloration. They end up unconsciously representing their "client" country more than they do the United States. Something similar tends to occur among documentary filmmakers. Spending so much time with their subjects, they make the person or persons they're shooting their client - rather than the viewers they're shooting for. What this all too often results in are documentaries that meander, overflow, and otherwise go on too long. The miraculous thing about Jerry Aronson's "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" is its concision. It weighs in at a quite taut 84 minutes, this despite the remarkably full and varied life of the great Beat poet-visionary, as well as the onscreen presence of numerous family members and friends. First released in 1993, then in a revised version in 2012 (15 years after Ginsberg's death), Aronson's film is a labor of love. He spent a dozen years filming Ginsberg - we see him reading his poetry, answering questions, conversing with old pals like William Burroughs - yet there's a sense of every frame and syllable mattering. If anyone could be forgiven for suffering from documentary clientism, it's Aronson. The capaciousness of the DVD format now lets him indulge the temptations he avoided in the film. So let's hear it for indulgence. We get a two-minute look at Ginsberg and Bob Dylan visiting Jack Kerouac's grave, in Lowell. There are snippets of film Jonas Mekas shot of Ginsberg during his last few dying days. There are also 25 minutes of footage recording Ginsberg and Neal Cassady at San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, in 1965. (That sound you hear in the background isn't cable cars - it's the shifting of cultural tectonic plates.) A second disc includes footage from a memorial service for Ginsberg at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as well as excerpts from the extensive interviews Aronson conducted with friends and associates. How extensive? We get Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Warhol, Philip Glass, Ken Kesey, Stan Brakhage, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Paul McCartney (you get the idea), as well as such latter-day admirers as Beck, Bono, and Johnny Depp. This is a very rich slice of cultural history, lovingly presented.