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The Beat Generation: An American Dream [VHS] (1998)

Steve Allen , David Amram , Janet Forman  |  Unrated |  VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Steve Allen, David Amram, Amiri Baraka, Ray Bremser, William S. Burroughs
  • Directors: Janet Forman
  • Writers: Janet Forman, Regina Weinrich
  • Producers: Janet Forman
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Winstar
  • VHS Release Date: September 29, 1998
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000009PXN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,521 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

A portrait of a volatile period of American culture illuminated through rare archival footage and interviews with personalities which include Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Carolyn Cassady, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary and Abby Hoffman.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This superb documentary, narrated by the late Steve Allen, goes a long way towards explaining what made the Beats so interesting and influential (however briefly) on American culture. Actual film footage of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Neal Cassidy and others is skillfully interwoven with reminiscences by surviving Beats. My one caveat is that they included such obnoxious non-Beats as Hoffman and Leary at all, let alone that they gave them so much film time. Still, this video is well worth the asking price and a real hidden gem!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beat is a state of mind May 9, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I liked this documentary, for a change. It really caught the overall sense of what the "beat" mindset was all about. The original "beats" weren't out to found a movement or change the world. They were just out to survive and be themselves in a society of mind-numbing conformity (literally- remember lobotomies?) Beats were just trying to carve out a small bohemian space were they could be themselves in basic sincerity and honesty- and coolness. These were admitted nonconformists, but it wasn't intentional or a pose- they just wanted to be what they were born to be, and you can't do that in the belly of Moloch. They just wanted to left alone by the squares to do their art, do their living. It was their great misfortune that they ended up teaching by example.
It is nice to be able to put faces and voices to the names and characters that you've been reading about for years (and more than a few are nothing like you'd expect from their reputations.) You've got interviews and film footage from the "holy trinity": Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg- as well as a multitude of other beat and beat connected figures (Cassady, Ferlinghetti, Corso, Huncke, Dianne Di Prima, Jan Kerouac, Ann Charters, Abby Hoffman, Leary, etc., etc., etc.) The whole thing is kind of tied together by Steve Allen.
The thing that I got from this is that you can have the genuine "inner beatness", or you can have the whole "beatnik", pretentious wannabe thing. The latter is a cold dead and empty form. The former, however, is as alive as it ever was- here and there, underground. Beats aren't wannabes- the just want-to-be themselves- either alone or with a few like-minded friends. I know it came as a shock to me when I first started reading the beats- and found that they had been living, thinking, and feeling like I always had. Beat is a state of mind- and a state of mind isn't bounded by the irrelevancies time or place.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little late in the "Beat Rush" March 16, 2001
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I would have given this video another star if it would have been one of the first works on the beats I had seen. But, there are more videos on the beats than any other group of writers with the possible exception of expatriate writers in France of the 30's! The value of this video is found in the interviews. The beat writers are great storytellers on and off the page, and it is a joy to see them in action. If this is your first video on the beats I recommend those by Mystic Video also available at Amazon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect in every way! March 21, 2013
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Highly recommended! 18 words are required here to leave feedback and I am running out of superlatives- OK, I think that did it.
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