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Broken Tower (2011)

Michael Shannon , James Franco , James Franco  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Shannon, James Franco, Dave Franco
  • Directors: James Franco
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2012
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006MHZ7ZS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,891 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

One of the most influential poets of his generation, Hart Crane lived a life of passion and turmoil. Shooting in three countries in the streets that the poet himself haunted, writer/director and star James Franco gives a no-holds-barred performance in a film as rebellious, heartbreaking and honest as Crane himself. Bonus Features: Audio Commentary with Director James Franco, Producer Vince Jolivette and Cinematographer Christina Voros, Interviews with Hart Crane Scholars by James Franco.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brave Little Film that Finds a New Way of Communicating February 14, 2012
Format:Amazon Instant Video
THE BROKEN TOWER will likely never be on the list of best films made, so why award it five stars? Because this very fine art piece is the result of the devotion of James Franco to his craft. He worked directly with Boston College professor Paul Mariani, the author of a half dozen volumes of poetry, as well as several biographies of 20th-century American poets, including William Carlos Williams, John Berryman, and Robert Lowell: Franco based THE BROKEN TOWER on Mariani's similarly titled 2000 biography of Crane.

The subject of the film is the life and creative genius of Hart Crane, (July 21, 1899 - April 27, 1932) an American poet who found both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that is difficult, highly stylized, and very ambitious in its scope. In his most ambitious work, The Bridge, Crane sought to write an epic poem in the vein of The Waste Land that expressed something more sincere and optimistic than the ironic despair that Crane found in Eliot's poetry. In the years following his suicide at the age of 32, Crane has come to be seen as one of the most influential poets of his generation.

James Franco wrote the screenplay based on book by Paul Mariani, directed and edited the film and acted the main role of Hart Crane. Crane was a nearly disconsolate man who refused to follow his wealthy father's business, longing instead to be a poet. Born in Ohio he traveled to New York (the place he always considered home), to Cuba, and to Paris searching for his poetic voice.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I must confess that I ordered The Broken Tower for the wrong reason, because I read that James Franco did something in it that gay men do all the time but non-porn actors NEVER do on film, even openly gay actors in flagrantly gay movies. That bit was kind of a bust, but I ended up liking the movie anyway, for less sleazy reasons.

I know next to nothing about Hart Crane, and I don't know a lot more after having watched this movie. It's not a biography by any means. My best guess would be that it's James Franco's impression of what Crane was like, and that's what makes it interesting.

It's oddly directed, with very many long, handheld, extreme closeups, filmed from about chest-level, of Franco (as Crane) walking the streets of various cities, usually looking up from just under his chin, but sometimes looking at the back of his head. That motif repeats often.

At least 70% of the spoken lines in the movie are Franco (always as Crane) reading Crane's poetry: one long scene reciting to an audience in a formal setting, and much poetry read as a sort of narration as various events unfold on screen. This movie definitely is not for people who hate poetry - Crane's poetry in particular.

It's definitely not for people who need action, romance, likable characters, or a clear story line in movies. It's for people who can sit through a 108-minute experimental movie without any particular expectation as to what it's going to be like.

It's for people who appreciate enthusiasm and passion in artists (I'm talking mainly about Franco, but it applies to Crane too, I suppose) even if the result is not particularly coherent. It's obvious that this was a labor of love for Franco, and that more than anything else is what makes it interesting.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I am confident that many people who will review James Franco's "The Broken Tower" will declare it a cinematic marvel. I am equally sure that its detractors will call it an incomprehensible mess. This self-consciously arty exploration of the life and work of poet Hart Crane seems destined to divide its audience, and I suspect reactions will be intense and passionate. I guess I'll straddle the middle ground somewhat and call "The Broken Tower" an interesting experiment. Of course, if you are a fervent Franco fan--you will undoubtedly seek out this project as he is its star, director and writer. Its appeal to others, however, may be considerably more limited. On the one hand, the film's visual aesthetic is undeniably arresting. Franco borrows techniques from many of the masters in developing the film's beautiful black-and-white palette and sets up interesting and unconventional shots. From a technical standpoint, the film has a lot going for it. On the other hand, the film is notably less successful at getting you to understand its subject. This, for me (as someone who is familiar with Hart Crane), may be the movie's fatal undoing.

The movie is not concerned with being a traditional biography. It is structured in a series of vignettes (labeled as voyages). Some of these interludes are evocative, some are rather obtuse. With a subject that is so inherently dramatic and tumultuous, it is quite unexpected how little of that drama actually makes it into the story. Many of the segments offer mundane slice-of-life glimpses of Crane, some offer brief outbursts usually without context, and many offer reading after reading of Crane's work and/or letters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a dull, sanitized documentary (memories of Voices and Visions)
Very grateful to have a film biography of Hart Crane. Not a dull, sanitized documentary (memories of Voices and Visions). Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Michael Albert
1.0 out of 5 stars Hart Crane's must have turned over in his grave.
The best part of this movie was reading the reviews written by some very educated people. Maybe Mr. Read more
Published 3 months ago by michael saitta
1.0 out of 5 stars Review
A disjointed view of the poet Hart Cranes life. The movie is mostly silent, and if it does have dialogue it is mumbled, taking place during his writing of the "voyage... Read more
Published 4 months ago by surefiremiss
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious but good
I love James Franco so I loved this. If you don't like him don't watch it as you'll probably find it a bit annoying and dull. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Roman R
1.0 out of 5 stars Film school project gone horribly wrong
Leaden acting, wooden directing, self-indulgent hubristic art garbage. But at least you get to see James Franco felating a prosthetic. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Wolfsegg
5.0 out of 5 stars LIFE OF HART CRANE
great first-time try for james franco on a controversial subject as the poet hart crane . Performances were good well written very edifying i enjoyed the film buy it.
Published 18 months ago by daniel bisson
5.0 out of 5 stars Nails it in blaack and white
If you like Bergman and Jarmusch you are in for a treat. The poet Hart Crane, played by James Franco, is in the same inner state anywhere he goes and whoever his company is. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Julia Lazar
5.0 out of 5 stars Franco Fan
I enjoy watching James Franco on the screen. He is a brilliant actor in both big budget film as well as lower budget , stage, etc. Read more
Published 18 months ago by D Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy try
Trying to explain about a poet and his rôle in society is not easy - even Doctor Zhivago went for the love story approach. Read more
Published 19 months ago by a deanite
5.0 out of 5 stars Art Film & Poetry Genius
This movie is a visual poem, making use of film techniques to capture a poetic mood. It tries to capture the spirit of Hart Crane and what the commentators keep calling his... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Anne Brody
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