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.