Poem/Film: Howl

We know we’re early–sorry for that!– but your deadline is still next Wednesday. This entry is posted now so you can have extra time to re-watch and conduct more background research on this specific set of works.


Howl involves layers of forms and stories with multiple references, choose one element and compose a personal response in relation to two story triangulations we have already discussed in class. (plot-setting-characterization for story and meaning-sound-shape for poetry).

Your response should be in form of significant opinion and/or valid argument about the act of writing creative work and the way fiction form (poetry/song) is delivered. For Howl, you can extend your argument and discuss the dramatization of court records and personal interviews in the film.

As additional materials, you can also consult Footnote to Howl by Allen Ginsberg and Allen Ginsberg Reading Howl (part 1 | part 2part 3).

Please do not resort to summarizing/retelling/paraphrasing the story of the poem/film; we already know what the poem and the film are all about.


We include these study questions as prompts/reminders. You can either write your comment of your own composed opinion or submit an answer to one of these questions.

Study Questions.

1) How does element(s) or aspect(s) of plot/setting/characterization work in the story of Howl? Or, in smaller scope, how does one specific part work within the poem/film plot-setting-characterization?

2) How does triangulation of meaning-sound-shape of poetry in either the poem or the film Howl? How does sound/shape work or play in lines of Howl or scene or specific line of the film Howl? Try to focus on the form of the poem (sound/pattern) or the form of film (audio/visual).

3) If you refer to a specific reference, how is it portrayed in the poem/film as a newly created work? Try to focus on how the reference is used within the poem/film.

4) How is the act of reciting Howl in the film significant? Try to consider the tone (sing/say/whisper/shout/howl) used in Howl the poem and/or a part of film.


Just a reminder, you can always consult this FAQ entry before posting your comments.

183 thoughts on “Poem/Film: Howl

  1. 180410120077
    Class D

    Hereby, I am answering the first question of the study question.

    I choose the first part, as it reflects of what has been perceived as “society” in terms of wider and shallow perceptions of interpretation. As in the first part, as quoted, “the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death, and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio” in wider perception, It keeps telling that society, have stripped to a judgment of right and wrong about a thing without concerning about the reason of Why, What, Who, When, Where, and How. Why they are like that? Why they do that? What are the impacts? What are the purest standards of right and wrong? Who are responsible? When we judge a person did the wrong thing or the right thing? Where should we think of an unstable yet undiscovered unfair condition? And how they are? How is the process? It seemed that every society shall have those who are majority and those who are minority. They are not getting into a one, I think, I presume, as the majority shall make limitations unto the minority. Because they think they are having the right to do so.

    In shallow perception, the first part of “Howl” truly express of what has been perceived in my mind as “Ignorance is a bliss”, which is really a dangerous state of mind. I think, Allen Ginsberg is portraying the real form of human mind, which is free and unbound to any limitation, “To listen and to read” whatever lies on their perceptions, their interpretations, and their understandings, as well as, we, to speak and to write on the same basis. I concluded that, shall we understands, “the reasons of men’s act of something, before judging it either wrong or right.” This first part, which only brings out the opening of all characters of the story, I think was to uncover the things that shall not be explained. To know what truly lies in the minds of people is surely leads your minds to uncover the secrets of living. As in the last, last part of the movie of this poem, the defendants of the party, states interesting phrases,”Let there be no running from nonexistent, destroyers of morals, Let there be honest understanding.” Those phrases, clearly spotted the things that shall not be covered, to listen and to read what they are, to understand more and to interpret more, to open up minds and eyes, to see, ”More than meets the eye.”


  2. 180410120143
    Kelas G

    “ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time”

    Ginsberg’s genuine love and care for Carl sparked in this line, as James Franco’s expression turns worrisome as he was reading it. “Not safe”, I think, refers to the mental institution where Carl receives agonizing shock therapy (as depicted in the movie sequence) or according to Ginsberg, “Rockland” (“where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again…”). As long as Carl is unsafe in “Rockland”, so is Ginsberg.

    “Animal soup”, I think either refers to humans and their (sometimes) animalistic behavior (especially in mental people), or to Rockland, who treats their patients like “animals”. Either way, I think Carl is in the “soup” (probably like the alphabets in alphabetic soups), frail and fragile, soon to be slurped down by “time”.


  3. Fikkah lini putri
    Kelas E

    Part II: Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! Spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!

    Ginsberg here expresses anger and resentment, which is characterized by the recurrence of exclamation sentences and word choice such as; demoniac, blind, invisible.
    The character called Moloch, is synonymous with the name of an ancient god whom the children sacrificed. Summoned twice (Moloch), is consistent with the two topics in this stanza, ‘first’ Moloch in the poem above is intended to the sacrifice of the youth by the government fighting in war to defense the country. Ironically, their fought in war was only for mere political interests, warriors was sacrificed, while the government was reluctant to make peace. ‘second’ Moloch is the owner of a huge industry, and set aside capitalism herded people into the poor and the rich, the poor were synonymous with suburban and unnoticed.
    Both have in common, namely to sacrifice the public concerns for private purposes.


  4. 180410120025
    Class B

    “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked”, construing almost each aspect of Ginsberg’s encounterances in his life, would be my favorite line in the movie. Besides, the great deal of creativity and graphic arts in the movie, which is interesting enough because never, as far as I know, has a poem been adapted into a movie in such a densed, elaborated, and well-packed sphere, illustrates pent-up feelings from words to a visual enjoyment. In fact, the role of sounds do affect how the poem progresses its plot.

    We have known that the poem is a continous flow of utterances, eliminating pauses and periods in between, but still presented in such a fresh, embracing tone and other prosody segments. The first line is then recited using some stresses with risings and fallings, showing Ginsberg’s fury of the age of his “generation” and, together, his deep passionate to it. His glorifying his era immediately followed by his disappointment with the issue against homosexuality, depicts the fact that “Howl” is an attempt of Ginsberg to thrive and persist on his age within the lines afterward. Indeed, the fact that the initial line says the whole scope Ginsberg’s trying to deliver, may become the reason the success of this poem.


    • That opening is also makes me think about the reflection of What Allen Ginsberg Portray on the part two, I think and I am agree with you.

      It is like, the real denotative meanings are displayed accompanied also with connotative meanings. But, it is densely in term of denotative, and that is what is called as the freedom to chose. To listen, to hear, to read, and to speak more.

      I believe also, that many words which is “obscene” in this poetry, it was not the other intention, it was the intention to open up minds and discover new perceptions. more importantly, to embrace new interpretation.

      It was such a poetry that touches every single part of sense.


      • That is why the movie problematizes the profound values of the poem and adapts them into the court scene, where people both pro with and against its “literary merit.” The obscene dictions, I assume, is a sole interpretation of Ginsberg himself in perceiving the encounterances he has in his life.

        Moreover, the words in the poery even speak louder than how James Franco read it before the audience in some scene. The legit terms, along with the intonation and the prosody segments, allows “Howl” to be comprehensive for any layer of societies, for which reason Ginsberg seizes his masterpiece at the top of the era.


      • I think the first stanza in his poem is the opening to discover all of his intention to his poetry, madness and hysterical naked of young generation is a picture of the beat generation in the era of 1950th in American, rejected to the accepted American rules and moral. Sexual deviation, drugs,cigarrete for women, abortion and free sex are things that exposed by the beat generation concepts.


  5. 180410110128 / C

    I watched the movie first and my reaction is “What the Howl is this?”

    Usually, I have bad expectation in adaptation movie either it is from song, video game, comic or other media. Only some of movie which made exception and Howl is one of it. The reason is because it can make four different parts story (the court, the poet, the flashback, and the interview) connected without make the story boring. The transition between part does not feel forced.

    Each part itself have their own uniqueness. The flashback give a background story of the poet and the poem, the interview tell the opinion from the author about his poem, the court have interesting part because of I think it is ridiculous to sued the poem yet it is told with clever, and the last but the least the poem have good naration and unique animation.


  6. Felicia. M. Y

    The film of Howl is the representation of the poem, It probably makes the poem has many visual imagery rather than other imagery. the visual imagery also clearly described in the film. The plot of the play have progressive plot and flash back. The setting has only three places which are Allen’s house, court, and club. Allen’s house and court describe about progressive plot and the Club describes about the past time.
    In the play, the character of Allen is reflected that he is homosexual and an American youth who wants to be “free” to express their ideas and feelings. “Free” is described in the play by any means. The word “free” is appeared to express the idea and free for not following the rule. It can be seen in the exposition when he said “I wouldn’t want my daddy to see what was in there…I could write anything that I wanted to” and “the problem when it comes to literature, is this: there are many writers who have preconceived ideas about what the literature is supposed to be…”. Those conversations describe that Allen is tired to follow the rule of his father. Then, he also wanted to make something different instead of following Gail Potter’s statement. Gail said that if someone wants to make a poet, it is must have “some moral greatness” as she said when the beginning of “the battle of books”.
    Allen’s characterization as homosexual becomes obstacle in the play, because homosexuality in that era is mental illness. According to of Allen’s statement in the play, the experience of his “mental illness” has influence on the writing of poem. The influence can be seen in the sexual illustration and also the statement of Gail potter about the poem. The climax is not sufficient clear when I watched the play at the first time. I assumed the climax of play, when David Kirk gave his opinion in opposite way which is not on Allen’s side. In addition, the climax, falling action, and denouement do not take long time in the play. I can see the main plot is Allen Ginsberg in the play, so I think the main plot in the poem is Allen as well. The subplot is “my generation” or “beat generation”. The form of poem is free verse as the film has explained. It can also be seen in the poem which is not rhymed. The poem is written to be long sentence that make us as a reader run-online to get the sense of the poem. Allen Ginsberg uses many poetic devices which develop the image to help the reader understand about what Allen meant.
    The illustration in the play is the representation the image of the poem. It can actually be seen in the film when Allen tried to write or to read the poem. The audio of the illustration is created by Carter Burwell and the audio is appropriate to the imagery of the poem. Therefore, the audio and the illustration help us to understand the meaning and the sound of the poem. For example in the 11th line “with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,”. The audio just combine piano and cello/violin to create the sense of dream, drug, and alcohol. Someone who uses the drug or alcohol makes vertigo and also makes the image of whirlpool. In 00.07.37 minutes in the play shows how the imagery of whirlpools in the poem works. Therefore, I can see how the visual imagery which is made by Allen Ginsberg in the poem work in the play.


  7. 180410120112 / F

    A queer love story will be the most intriguing love story which remained a mystery.

    In Neal’s letter, he says “I fear”, the fear may refer to two reasons in the film; (1)“Also I fear therein lies our strength of tie to each other”, (2)“for I really don’t know how much I can be satisfied to love you”. Yet, if I may say, the reasons are not the real reason. What he actually fears is society’s scam, he is scared that the world would not accept his sexual orientation especially his wife. Also that would be a reason why he asked Allen to become a truly straight man.

    The same thing happens to Allen, but his problem is probably only with his father as he says “I wouldn’t want my daddy to see what was in there”.

    Admitting feelings as a queer to others would not be as simple as straight.


  8. Netti Rahmawati

    “We spent months sitting around asking ourselves whether the authority of the doctors and their sense of reality was right for us or whether we were right…”

    I think that sentence, said by James Franco in his role as Allen Ginsberg in this film, has a deeper meaning about two issues in this film; homosexual and obscenity. The deeper meaning itself appears when Ginsberg questions whether doctors, believed as “experts” in examining human’s condition, still have authority of claiming that being a homosexual is a fault or not. In another ciscumstance, related to obscenity issue, it means that there will be no one including English Professors, believed as “experts” in understanding literary work, who can claim whether a literary work contains obscenity or not. This thought, perhaps, also becomes the reason why Ginsberg says that “the trial wasn’t about me [him]”, like he does not care with the result of the trial because the result of which will not affect his work’s value.


  9. 180410120001

    In my opinion, the movie Howl is very interesting. It is interesting because there are some verses that inserted in the scenes to complete and to finish the plot. The movie plot depends on the poem that the man read. However, the main point that I focused from the beginning until the ending of this movie is the animation. I think the poem that the man read is represented by the animation. Moreover, the animation is very awesome because it is very artistic and full of imagination. Besides that, when the poem is read, there are the music that suitable with the animation and the man’s voice. The best part of the collaboration of the music, the animation and the man’s voice when he reads the poem is, “Yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,”
    In short, the poem, the animation and the music are related and makes the movie Howl becomes very interesting.


  10. Annette Alexandria

    The interesting part with this film and the poetry is how the film really describing the homosexuality of Allen Ginsberg. As we all know here, Allen is a homosexual but, he and the film expressed it in a romantic way, I assume.

    Ginsberg said ‘But I was falling in love again and again, and I kept writing poetry about the people who I was falling in love with. All straight men.’
    It shows how Ginsberg really in love with all the men that he has been with, so he write it down into a poetry, even in the other side, he felt guilty about it, like he said how he convinced the doctor and he told him that he will be a heterosexual so he can get out from there.

    The thing is, he still being a homosexual, even after he left New York. He falling in love again with guy named Jack, and he feel great about it. But once again, he traped inside his own fearness about what if he grow old alone and no one would love him, just like he told to his psychiatrist in San Fransisco.

    After all, the film is boring because there are no soundtrack, and in black white, also the setting is very old fashioned but the topic is quite interesting. Allen Ginsberg is a romantic person with every man he loved, how he build a romantic relationship, as if it a normal heterosexual relationship, he shows it in his own kind of sweetness.


    • 180410120089
      Class E

      Although there are no soundtrack in the film, I very much enjoyed the score since Carter Burwell composed it. It is by no means a jazzy score, but it has a delicate jazz feel to it. Occasionally the music is moody but then it also has edgy melodies, which appropriate to the film it accompanies as it still manage to echo the emotions of the scenes and create atmosphere of time and place that makes the flashbacks to early life of Allen Ginsberg during the 1940s and 1950s more understandable.


  11. 180410120083
    Class B

    At first I could not get the meaning of the poem Howl, but then the adaptation movie helped me. The movie is quite boring, I admit, but I paid attention to how James Franco, who plays a main role as Allen Ginsberg, represents the poem. Franco step by step makes it clear. The best way to understand the poem Howl is from the tone Franco used to narrate the poem, I think. Franco’s gesture when he read the poem in a bar also helps. The illustration, though it is not perceptibly easy to understand, clears up the poem-telling a bit, at least. The good part is, the adaptation movie does a great work in adjusting the setting to illustrate a 50s-era movie, though it was released in 2010, which supports the originality of the poem.


  12. 180410120067/A

    Honestly, the poem is easier to be imagined then the movie since I am able to imagine it freely without the effect which the visual reflection of its poem from the movie gives. However, the movie gives more information about the poem.
    When Ginsberg says “…the trick is to break down that distinction, to approach your muse as frankly you would talk to yourself or to your friends. It’s the ability to commit to writing – to write the same way that you are.”, I assume that the poem tries to convey what he truly thinks toward the circumstances he faces. When he says “homosexuality is a condition and…… it served as a catalyst for self-examination……. the reasons why everyone else is different and why I am different.”, it emphasizes that his difference is on his homosexuality and it is good to be frank in that way. Thus, actually Ginsberg personality is created naturally in his speech that he actually tries to figure out who he is and it can only be figured out with frankness.
    Overall, I believe both the poem and the movie convey an explicit message about self-identification.


  13. Zitro Alviotti
    Class F

    In the part where Ginsberg was looking at the painting, I would like to say that the painting represents Ginsberg’s dream which he desires. That is why, the setting which surrounded the painting is coloured black and white since it is the reflection of Ginsberg’s satiation of his life. Furthermore, during that painting scene, he also mentioned about “prophechy” which I think, The prediction of his own future living which is as beautiful as the painting. However, the fact is, he didn’t earn it since his dream is blocked by the jail which he described it like “Alcatraz” in his poem. Hence, the painting itself is the extent of his thought based on my opinion.


    • I agree with you that the painting could represent Ginsberg’s dreams and desires. I think the scene describes Ginsberg’s world at that time, where he was living in the middle of a “black and white world”, a divided world, when all he wanted was to live in a colorful accepting world. He wanted to live in a world where he doesn’t have to choose between black or white, he wanted to escape the reality and “hop” into the painting of his dreams and desires.


  14. 180410120064/ A

    “who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
    came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
    watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
    Denver and finally went away to find out the
    Time & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,”

    This is the part of the poem in which Ginsberg refers to his ex “partner”, Neal Cassady. In the movie, this part takes place in Denver, after Ginsberg gets out from New York. The characters who are involved here, besides Ginsberg and Cassady, is also a woman who is perhaps Cassady’s wife.

    This part consists of four main settings.The first is in the street where Ginsberg takes pictures of Cassady and the woman. The second is in the room when Ginsberg and Cassady’s relationship is shown. The third is in the car when Cassady is on the way leaving broken-hearted Ginsberg who is reading the farewell letter in their used-to room. The last is the animation illustration about the poem’s part above, which ends this part about Cassady.

    Overall, I think this movie is great for the maker can combine the interview, the flashback, the court, and the visual animation parts become one perfect unity that makes the story comes to be more comprehensible.


  15. Muhammad Reihansyah Maulana
    Class F- 180410120107

    Actually I dont really understand about the film
    The story of it makes me bored.
    One thing that atrract me is the animation played in the film. And I’m interested with the scene of Moloch. I think ‘Moloch’ represented the way other people see about the difference between each other and consider the people with differences from the norms as a strangers and alienated them from the society. And I can say, people lived in that era when ‘Howl’ were published find so much difficulties to express or to find their own desire since the norms adapted by the people in that era was very strict.


  16. 180410120082
    Kelas E

    In Howl, It is basically assumed that meaning and shape, and in some parts sound, blend into element which builds the characterizations of the two institutionalized personae: the addressee of the poem, Carl Solomon, and mother of Allen Ginsberg. Through flat yet meaningful tonal emphasis, Ginsberg transforms the pain, misery, and despair of her mom to describe how miserable it is to be “…given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia.” Ginsberg also tries to put on view how homosexuality was treated as mental illness during his days through the shaped repetition of “I’m with you in Rockland” and its following descriptions of bitterness and hardships (particularly in eleventh to fifteenth verse of part III). The repetition itself perhaps demonstrates Ginsberg’s intention to close the distance between the poet and his beloved friend Carl Solomon.


  17. Monique Ariica
    E – 180410120052

    What I notice after reading the poetry:

    First, I feel the voyeuristic pleasure given by the speaker who tells the reader everything he wants to share. The pleasure feels like I am involved into what he thinks from secretly knowing what his mind is all about.

    Second, the speaker, who as a matter of fact, is also the only person that lets us know what is actually happening. In the first section, we can also easily notice that the speaker is a witness who wants to tell us everything he saw, like in the first line of the first paragraph, the speaker says:

    “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.”

    When the speaker says “I saw” I think it means he experienced and saw something, he wants to tell us about it so we can find out what it is all about. It seems like he really wants to share all the stories with someone, and I, as the reader, feel like I am the ‘someone’ who will listen to all the things he is trying to say and share. His strong views about madness, drugs, politics and war makes me kind of feel like getting pulled into it, and it feels like the speaker wants me to listen to him to know what he really thinks.

    By looking at the “I” eye point of view it seems like it is just the same with the all knowing narrator, but then I realize that I do not agree with several of what he says, so I think that the speaker cannot be concluded as the all knowing speaker.


  18. There is a sequence which is made me interested when Ginsberg read,

    “I’m with you in Rockland
    where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free”

    The spectators react differently before Ginsberg read this. In my opinion, Ginsberg wrote a satire explicitly through United States Government to stop the war they had at that time. The reaction of spectators shows the agreement with Ginsberg’s explicitly satire and wants a peaceful life. The way Ginsberg read the poem (his gesture include his hand, his body language, and his rhyme) and the way the spectators react, it shows that Ginsberg and the spectator had similarity in thought.


  19. 180410100177
    Class B

    For the first time I try to watch the movie, honestly I don’t really understand about this movie, it such a visualization from the poem which Allen Ginsberg has written. Then I chose to read Ginsberg’s poem. From all of poems, I prefer to read “Father Death Blues”, because it’s more understandable for me than others. Honestly, I don’t really like to read poems. Moreover, most of Ginsberg poems use the words which is very difficult to be understood by common people, and one of them is myself. The use of difficult words can be seen by the existence of footnotes that is used to describe those words.
    Then, here is my response of Ginsberg’s “Father Death Blues” :
    In the Ginsberg’s “Father Death Blues”, I saw the relationship between Ginsberg and his father, Louis Ginsberg. I think that this poem was written by Ginsberg in the airplane when he was going to go home to meet his death father. I can conclude that point by read this part of poem, “Hey Father Death, I’m flying home.” The words ‘Flying plane’ imply airplane.
    For me the poem is very touching. It describes the deeply sadness that turned into the madness of the son who was leaved by his father– who always be his partner in making the works, forever.
    This idea can be seen from the quotation of the poem bellow:
    “Hey Poor man, you’re all alone.”
    The words “Poor man” refers to Ginsberg. The death of his father made him alone in everything: life and work composing. Just what I have said before, his father was the true partner of him in composing works.
    Ginsberg’s sadness also caused of his mother who has passed away, long time before his father. It’s completely sad!
    However, Ginsberg realized that the father death could not make his life stop here. If I could say, “Life must go on after the death of the loved ones”.
    Ginsberg strengthen himself by the belief of the Almighty God. It can be seen from this part :
    “Buddha Death, I wake with you.”
    Well, that’s all about my comment about Ginsberg’s “Father Death Blues”.
    The main idea of mine about Ginsberg’s poems is about his story life, such as Autobiography poems.


  20. Nurul Hidayah

    I think “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked” is Allan Ginsberg’s expression that explains his disappointment, disaffection, and alienation to the figure (his generation) around him. “The best mind” points out Ginsberg’s thought which considers that the figure actually has a great mind and intelligence capability which could necessarily protect one another; however, what Ginsberg thinks is not accordance with reality. “Madness, starving hysterical naked” has made that figure is trapped by themselves. I interpret that madness here probably describes everything that could shatter the life of Ginsberg’s generation. For example his generation is increasingly distant from the norms and rules so that they do not have qualified generation anymore. Meanwhile for “starving hysterical naked” I think it is probably an affirmation from Ginsberg’s thought to his generation that could not give benefit at all to the public because of their bustle and unwillingness.


  21. 180410120050
    Class C

    As far as I am concerned, Howl movie, consisting of three different sides such as Allen’s personal life, reciting of the poem, and situation in the trial, does not contain a well-mixed triangulation of meaning-sound-shape. The visualization of this movie even doesn’t successfully deliver the meaning of this poem. The naked man and woman cartoon might irritate audiences. Moreover, the sound influences the movie to be more dramatized.

    Compared to Howl movie, I prefer to read the poem. Although it is relatively difficult to understand and has multiple references, I like how Allen Ginsberg uses his own style of words and portrayals which shape his real character. The repetition of “I’m with you in Rockland” is favorite line. It represents about how Allen shows his solidarity to Carl Solomon, who resides the mental hospital called Rockland.


  22. Nikko Kurnia Hermawan
    Class B

    Watching this movie needs extra time to re-think regarding the meaning of the conversation and the poem itself. Loads of word which I don’t really get it while I was watching that movie taking into consideration my understanding about poem. Yet there is something that I am into from this movie is how every line of the poem can be described by interesting depictions (animations and real life) and it makes me so much easier to understand and absorb the whole things either the conversation between the casts and the meaning of poem. Another thing which I loved the most is how the poem is sounded clearly, firmly, and gently by James Franco, who has a main role as Allen Ginsberg. It turns out, sound has significant effect to make poem’s meaning can be well-understood by someone who is listening to. It is proved by a scene where James Franco was reading a poem at the stage in front of people and they gave variety reactions to James (clapping, cheering, etc). There is dynamics of sound to create mood. Talking about Ginsberg’s main issue, it was beyond my expectation that Ginsberg was a homosexual. Yet I love the way he struggled with his “illness” to go back to his destiny being a heterosexual. “Howl” describes the whole journey of Ginsberg’s life especially his very own love story.


  23. Diva Putih Dannior

    The courtroom scenes hold a significant element in the movie as they provide further explanations about the meaning of the poem, and present different perspectives of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl through the experts. The trial builds the story and it becomes a major part of the plot. Moreover, each verse of the poem is mostly visualized by animations. A series of animations given in the movie helps me to figure out what Ginsberg is trying to say through Howl, even though it is weird seeing what seems to me like an imagery of “dark world” especially the repeated imagery of Moloch. Those scenes may reflect “madness” in several lines of Howl, where madness is presented continuously from the beginning to the end of the movie. Ginsberg’s life which “surrounded by madness” is what he exposes in Howl, including Carl Solomon, his mother, and his sexual orientation.


    • I am with you in how the court scene hugely affects the revealing of the poem’s meaning. In fact, I think that whether or not the filmmaker had put such scene in order to make standpoints about the poem, does not really matter. The visualizations answer the poem’s meaning just enough.


  24. i think, every word in this movie very well visualized and is also supported by the music which greatly affects the plot in poetry. and also the animation it is very artistic and makes us easier to imagine the poem.

    “moloch whoes eyes are thousand blind windows”
    “moloch. moloch. moloch.”
    Da de de DA de de DA de de DA DA…
    “moloch whose eyes”

    as i know ‘moloch’ is traditionally name that associated with specific gods or rituals form ancient middle estern and mediterranean religion, it commonly used to denote a power of force that demands great sacrifice but in this poem it comes to symbolize all of society’s great evil like violence. in this movie moloch is visualized by a robot with fire eyes. it is symbol of social forces. moloch also represent the immortal power of goverment. moloch is great of metaphor and symbolism to make social and political point.

    the last, i think this is great by combine the scene of interview and then they flashback and than they giving some explanation about what they think. and ofcourse the great part in this movie is visual animation and the sounds that make the story easier to understand. and james franco make the movie complitly perfect.


  25. Bunga Asih Insani

    This film is divided into two plots: interview (1957, New York City) and court records (1957, San Francisco). Though the scenes are different, both plots have the same conflict. In the courts, it is clearly seen that Ferlinghetti and the literary experts try to assume what Ginsberg means in his poem “Howl” in order to defend that the book is not obscene. Meanwhile, Ginsberg himself actually is not sure either about the “literary merit” of his poem since he just writes it for himself, not for public.
    However, both plots end with the same conclusion. The judge states that an author has freedom to express his thought with his own words, so it is not considered to be obscene because “evil to him who evil thinks”. Similarly, Ginsberg concludes that, through his poem about homosexuality, he can tell people to be free to express themselves and not to feel rejected just because they are different with their society.

    The reading of the poem in this film is supported by recital by character Ginsberg and animation that greatly illustrates. The recital also becomes the significant part because it has audiences (public) who give reaction, which is being concerned by the claimant in the court.


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