Monday, October 25, 2010

From Poetry to Prose to Animation?: A Review of Howl

“You cannot interpret poetry into prose”, this is a key phrase in the movie Howl. This line comes up during the obscenity trial, when the prosecuting lawyer is trying to determine what literary experts think the meaning of the poem is and if it contains any literary value or merit. On the same token, I don’t think you can interpret poetry into illustrations.

In the film, many sections from the poem, were interpreted into animation. I feel this took away from the movie as a whole. I found the images to be distracting from the reading of the poem. I heard many other movie patrons making the same comments as they were shuffling out of the theater. Instead of listening to Ginsberg’s readings, we were distracted by what was going on in the illustrations. Some of the more shocking images seemed to stick in your mind, preventing the viewer from paying attention to the next scene. In my opinion it would have been best to leave some interpretation up to the audience.

Another aspect of the illustration I found distracting, were the images’ computer generation. It seemed to conflict with the other scenes in the film. For a movie set in the 1950s, I felt the technology was out of place and the animations would have been better suited to be drawn by hand. Being drawn by hand could have given the animations a more dated looking, making it coherent with with rest of the film.

Overall I thought the acting in movie was really well done and I that the film was good, seeing as it wasn’t a movie that I would usually strike my eye. Having read Howl, the film helped me to understand the poem better by explaining Allen Ginsberg past in some detail, including the relationships he had with many people. By understanding his past it helped me to better interpret the poetry for myself.


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