I watched Howl tonight which is the film about American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and his notorious poem of the same title. It’s not a biopic as such but concentrates on the trial of the poem’s publisher on obscenity charges and uses a combination of live action and animation to make points about freedom of speech and artistic integrity.

I loved it. James Franco gives an amazing performance as does the supporting cast and the animation sequences are stunning and compliment the lines of the poem well. The real star of the film, though, is the poetry of Ginsberg which is funny, shocking and touching all at once. I’m not a particularly big reader of poetry but this film has made me want to look up some of this man’s work. The events shown here reminded me of all the times throughout history when art has been put on trial by narrow minded bigots (think Wilde, Lawrence, Joyce etc). I’m sure there’ll be more sad occasions like this in the future and when they come I know for sure who’s side I’ll be on.

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