Sunday, 29 August 2010

On the Road is on the way...

I heard some news today that filming is well under way of Jack Kerouac's iconic novel On The Road. I must say the news brings mixed emotions. On one hand, On the Road is one of those novels that has a mythic quality to it, the idea of making a film out of it always makes me nervous, a typically mediocre Hollywood film adaptation would cheapen the book. From time to time, plans to make a movie of On the Road have surfaced with various directors attached - Gus Van Sant, Francis Ford Coppola and rather distressingly, Joel Schmacher. On a more positive note, production company American Zoetrope have chosen Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles to helm the film. I have yet to see Motorcycle Diaries but I hear its good.

Cast wise, Sam Riley who was impressive as Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis in the 2007 film Control, is playing the Kerouac role of Sal Paradise while Garrett Hedlund (whom I don't know) is playing the book's Neal Cassidy alter ego Dean Moriarty. Hedlund in particular has big shoes to fill. Also among the cast is Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi and Viggo Mortensen who's playing Old Bull Lee, the character based on William Burroughs. On the Road will be released in 2011 and whatever happens it should be interesting to see how they handle the amphetamine rush of Kerouac's great American novel. At least they didn't offer it to the Crank guys...

Post-script: 13 December 2014

Watched Walter Salles' film of On the Road last night, and found it curiously uninvolving. Hard to put my finger on it - it's well directed and acted, it looks fantastic and is richly evocative of the era - but for all its pan-American zig-zagging, the film never leaps off the screen like Kerouac's novel leaps off the page, and it all felt a little too polite and genteel, when I was yearning for something more freewheeling and experimental, even a little rough around the edges. On the plus side, I really enjoyed Viggo Mortensen's William Burroughs, and Tom Sturridge playing Allen Ginsberg with the primal energy of a young Sean Penn...


2 comments:

  1. The film was made and released - I have not seen it - (I also haven't read the book - that it is my least favorite brother's favorite book might mean I never will). I didn't do a deep dive into the reviews - but Roger Ebert gave it two stars. Did you see it, and what did you think?

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  2. The film was indeed made and released and for all my posturing I haven't mustered up the enthusiasm to actually see it... yet. I think the film go pretty lukewarm reviews, not terrible, but not great either, just very middling which didn't inspire me to seek it out. But, no doubt it will come my way at some stage. I still think the best film made of that whole scene is Naked Lunch, Cronenberg very cleverly making a film about the book rather than of the book... In fairness to Walter Sallas, the film does look good - I've just watched the trailer over on youtube and maybe I will see this sooner rather than later...

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