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The Broken Tower 2012 NR CC

(31) IMDb 5.2/10
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From Focus World and director/star James Franco, the story of Hart Crane, a defining voice in 20th Century American poetry, who lived with as much passion as he did turmoil, from his early life to his journeys across the world.

James Franco, Michael Shannon
1 hour, 51 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama
Director James Franco
Starring James Franco, Michael Shannon
Supporting actors Richard Abate, Betsy Franco, Paul Mariani, Shandor Garrison, Stacey Miller, Dylan Goodwin, John Morrow, Ivo Juhani, Vince Jolivette, Fallon Goodsen, Caroline Aragon, Sebastian Celis, Will Rawls, Kazy Tauginas, Aztec Musicians Grupo de Danza Azteca Chichimeca Ome Acati, Alejandro León, Alejandra Sosa del Rio, Cármen Mera
Studio Focus Features
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Martin on April 6, 2012
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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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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