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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Literature > Counterculture > Jack Kerouac - King Of The Beats

Jack Kerouac – King Of The Beats


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: B



I did not know much about Jack Kerouac’s work and really never read his books, but his work, King Of The Beats (2001) gives a brief-but-effective portrait of the short-lived writer and succeeds in showing him as more than just another artist who became a victim of vice and died too soon.  It shows how he kept writing with no major support and little encouragement, then lived to see some of his success, if not how his words endured.


There are the usual interviews with friends (Allan Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs), and some less know persons (Lawrence Ferlinghetti) that help to clarify the biography, but the past taped and filmed moments with Kerouac himself speak best.  They speak of his approach, his ideas, his thoughts, how he was able to defend his position on things, and how all that stayed in tact as alcohol and unresolved emotional issues did not break this part of his personality.  Forget about the Hippie stereotypes and how many today are trying to write-off this period.  After all, the reason they are trying to is because this has to do with living and thinking for yourself.  That is all the more reason to check it out.


The full frame image is from an older analog transfer with muted color and is a few generations down.  Older monochrome footage fares better, while some of the footage is from old analog videotape and would not fare much better.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is basically monophonic, but does play better in a varied way we have come to expect from such documentary production and culmination.  Extras include some voice over with videotaped footage of the On The Road scroll, clips on William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg documentaries (though whether they are on DVD or not needs to be researched, though ordering info for VHS is available), Beat websites list, photo gallery, and extras footage form the Kerouac taping of his appearance on William F. Buckley’s TV series Firing Line.  These are good and I wish there were more.


This and many other documentary and special interest DVDs are available from Goldhil DVD.  You can order at their website www.goldhil.com and get additional information on this title, among others.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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