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The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (2013)

Allen Ginsberg , William F. Buckley , Jerry Aronson  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Allen Ginsberg, William F. Buckley, William S. Burroughs, Joan Baez, Abbie Hoffman
  • Directors: Jerry Aronson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: June 11, 2013
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B9LNP9C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,208 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Visionary, radical, spiritual seeker, renowned poet, founding member of a major literary movement, champion of human rights, Buddhist, political activist and teacher Allen Ginsberg s remarkable life shaped the very soul of American counterculture.

For 25 years, Academy Award®-nominated director Jerry Aronson accumulated more than 120 hours of film on Allen Ginsberg, resulting in this comprehensive portrait of one of America s greatest poets, author of Howl and other groundbreaking poems. The DVD includes exclusive and revealing interviews with his friends, family and contemporaries as well as never-before-seen materials made public because of the warm friendship that developed between subject and director.

This compilation reveals the last 60 years of American culture beginning with the Beat era in the post-war Forties and Fifties, continuing through the revolutionary Sixties and concluding with the uncertainty and possibility of current times.

Special Features:

6 HOURS OF BONUS MATERIAL INCLUDES: Exclusive Interviews; Featurette: The Making of The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg; Ginsberg reading selected poems; Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac s grave; William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg at Naropa University; Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg at City Lights bookstore; The Making of the Music Video A Ballad of the Skeletons; Ginsberg guides us through an exhibition of his photographs; Excerpts from Scenes from Allen s Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit by Jonas Mekas; Ginsberg photo gallery; Director s photo gallery; Memorial for Allen Ginsberg


Fiercely funny and moving --Rolling Stone

Splendid! A great American story --Los Angeles Times

A very rich slice of cultural history, lovingly presented. --Boston Globe

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEW YORK TIMES & THE BOSTON GLOBE May 18, 2007
The film at 85 minutes is amazing. The extras at over 6.5 hours are incredible. This DVD set is a source of all things Beat that I will be looking back at for years. It is beautifully arranged so that you can watch many extras on the same disc as the feature and also watch 35 interviews on Disc 2 including so many friends of Allen who also happened and happen to be cultural phenomenon's in their own right including Baez, Beck, Bono, Brakhage, Burroughs, Depp, Glass, Hoffman, Kesey, Leary, McCartney, Sonic Youth, Ono, Patti Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Warhol and so many more!

Also, Allen reads poetry to the camera for over 30 minutes, talks with Neal Cassidy in the basement of City Light in 1965 for almost 20 minutes, and reminisces with William Burroughs in 1984 at Naropa in Boulder, CO.

I can go on and on but this heartfelt collection made me want to read more of Ginsberg's poetry and remember a man who was truly a pacifist and helped make the world a better and more peaceful place. How we need that today!!!!!Here is a recent New York Times review on the DVD:

"The New York Times"
Jerry Aronson has augmented his crisp, straightforward 1993 documentary portrait of the poet Allen Ginsberg with six hours of extra material for this double-disc release, which now makes it a scholarly resource as well as a remarkably clearheaded study of a singularly complex individual.

Mr. Aronson's film follows Ginsberg from his middle-class upbringing in New Jersey through the media explosion that was the Beat movement, his role in the flowering youth movement of the 1960s and his last years as a devoted Buddhist and political activist.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kaddish & cosmos July 12, 2008
There are two features of Ginsberg's personality that come through over and over in this intriguing documentary: he was a deeply wounded man, and he was a deeply lovable one. The two were obviously connected: Ginsberg's wounds made him both vulnerable and compassionate. They could also make him rage against a world that condoned war and injustice, and all of these sides of him come through in his poetry.

Ginsberg's ur-wound was the tragedy of his mother, a remarkable woman who sadly suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was in and out of institutions during Ginsberg's youth, and finally died in one. As a boy, Ginsberg was frequently charged with her care. As his stepmother says in the film, he was exposed to way too much for a young boy to take in. His feelings of helplessness, frustration, impatience, love, guilt, and fear in the face of his mom's illness and increasingly bizarre behavior marked him for life. Thankfully, his relationship with his father Louis, a lyric poet, was one of tenderness, mutual respect, and deep love.

Ginsberg's unhappy relationship with his mother, as well as his genesis from beat poet to cosmic poet to Buddhist poet to grand old man of American poetry is tracked in the film. Especially welcome are the long and marvelous clips of Ginsberg reading his poetry: long sections of "Howl," all of "Kaddish," and others, sometimes put in music. There's also a clip from Ginsberg's appearance on Buckley's "Firing Line," in which the two men stood one another down. Lots of vintage still photography and cinema featuring the beat poets round out the documentary.

The one thing missing in the film was more than a brief mention of Ginsberg's lifelong relationship with Peter Orlovsky.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This DVD release of "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" might catch your eye if you are a fan of the poet and revolutionary. The film itself premiered as part of the PBS American Masters series in 1994 after its run on the festival circuit in 1993. It has been released in DVD form on different occasions, most recently in 2007 to align with the fiftieth anniversary of "Howl." That 2 disc set combined both the movie feature with over six hours (yes, six) of Bonus features. That edition and the previous ones have been out of print for some time, so Docurama is picking up the mantle and re-releasing the picture. I mention all of this to clarify that this is NOT a new title. You may have seen it and you may already own it. This release is exactly the same in content as the 2007 DVD, so please do not double dip. If, however, you new to the Ginsberg phenomenon or have not seen the movie than it is an easy recommendation.

At 84 minutes, the movie itself is but a snap shot of Ginsberg and his accomplishments. There is far more comprehensive material to be found if you are so inclined. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about the style of the film, it is fairly straightforward in presentation. Some areas of focus include the Beat Generation period and his development of friendships with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. His rise to activism in the fifties and sixties gets solid coverage, his thoughtful challenges to the status quo and his connection with Timothy Leary are also explored. Perhaps the culmination of his protests occurred with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The film also addresses the personal side of Ginsberg including his sexuality and how that influenced him in his role.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars to be read
one of the most exhilirating documentary i have ever seen
nice guy, this nut!

six more words required? ok, here they are!
Published 18 months ago by Yannick Guégan
4.0 out of 5 stars Item was both informative and entertaining.
Item provided a lot of biographical data, but also included many excerpts of Ginsberg
reading from his poems, as well as anecdotes from his various friends and associates.
Published 21 months ago by Lee Berggren
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Tribute to a Sweet and Smart Man
I met Mr Ginsberg briefly in Madison, WI, in the 60's; a gracious and centered individual, and extremely pleasant. Read more
Published on April 9, 2011 by R. Gawlitta
5.0 out of 5 stars Ginsberg
For anyone familiar with Allen Ginsberg's work, this set is a great introduction to his life and times. Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by Erik C. Pihl
4.0 out of 5 stars From "Howl" To OM
Recently I have been in a "beat" generation literary frame of mind. It all started last summer when I happened to be in Lowell, Massachusetts on some personal business. Read more
Published on September 13, 2009 by Alfred Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh the questions of a thousand dreams, what you do and what you see
This is quite an interesting perspective of Allen Ginsberg the man rather than the impact he had on wider society. Read more
Published on April 22, 2009 by Junglies
3.0 out of 5 stars "A Genius for Self-Promotion."
So stated Roger Kimball in his immaculate book, The Long March, concerning the subject of this documentary. Read more
Published on December 26, 2008 by Bernard Chapin
4.0 out of 5 stars poet and muse Allen Ginsberg (Deluxe Two-Disc Set)
The extraordinary life and times of Allen Ginsberg are profiled in this straightforward tribute documentary. Read more
Published on September 29, 2008 by 2 cents
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing look at "The Beat Generation" of the '50's and '60's.
No study of the 1950's and 1960's cultural revolution in the USA would be complete without the poetry and bohemian life-look at poet Allen Ginsberg and those of "The Beat... Read more
Published on April 14, 2008 by KerrLines
5.0 out of 5 stars Howlin' Great
Probably the best documentary I've ever seen. Gives you a whole new appreciation for Ginsberg's poetry, especially his wonderful poem "Kaddish. Read more
Published on August 24, 2007 by Charles W. Brice
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