Movie Mention: On the Road

Website Update: 1:00 a.m.: My Facebook Author Page hit 150 likes today! Thank you for making my Friday that much better. 

Yes. This movie is based off of Jack Kerouac’s book, On the Road, and, before I continue, I have to clarify how much of a fan I am of Kerouac. I first studied him in 2010. I read The Dharma Burns, Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, Maggie Cassidy, The Subterraneans, and Dr. Sax–all under Ken Irby’s poetic eye–and I’ve been in envy of Kerouac’s philosophic and honest writing ever since. (If you’re interested, here’s a list of how to write prose like Kerouac himself.)

The wonderful Jack Kerouac
The wonderful Jack Kerouac

But–back to the movie.

I’ve been trying to get my hands on this Brazilian-French drama ever since it premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or in May, 2012, but I couldn’t–for the life of me–find it anywhere. Maybe it was just my experience, but it never came to theaters here (Kansas main theaters), and stores seem to always have to order it from somewhere else. However, after watching it, I think I know why.

On the Road is very controversial. If you don’t understand The Beat Generation (writers in the 1950’s who experimented with drugs and sex) I could see why the movie would come across as a giant party, rather than something truly challenging and real. In fact, many don’t even realize that On the Road is based on a true story, something that happened to Kerouac and his friend, Neal Cassady. I think these facts are really essential to seeing (and feeling) what the movie is truly about. But, nevertheless, my friend (who hasn’t read the book, but did have me to explain some things) loved it, and I did too.

Movie Cover. And, yes, Kristen Stewart is in it, but it's no reason to ignore the movie. I, personally, think she suited the role of "Mary Lou" very well.
Movie Cover. And, yes, Kristen Stewart is in it, but it’s no reason to ignore the movie. I, personally, think she suited the role of “Mary Lou” very well.

It was a beautiful adaptation of a such a striking traveler’s (and coming of age) tale. In the novel, Kerouac’s ability to discuss self-discovery within culture is magnificent–and so is the movie’s. Walter Salles did a wonderful job directing this film.

I really recommend both the book and the movie. (Book first, preferably, but it’s up to you.) It’s a great way to start the weekend. And, if you’re looking for a trip to take this summer, consider traveling On the Road (his map is available below) with Kerouac’s writing to guide the way.

Watch the trailer for the On the Road movie here.


March 31: Writing Tips: Different Perspectives 

His map
His map

25 thoughts on “Movie Mention: On the Road

  1. I will have to peruse this movie. You should also check out: the Last Time I Commited Suicide. It’s based on the letters Cassady wrote to Kerouac. It’s what got me into the Beat Poets. Cassady’s First Third is an amazing book.

  2. I’ve got a copy of this film but can’t muster any enthusiasm to watch it — probably because Kristen ‘Balsawood’ Stewart is in it lol

    1. I talked about that, but I’m not sure if you saw it in the picture caption Kristen Stewart isn’t a reason to not watch it. She actually suites the role of Mary Lou pretty well. But that’s my opinion. As long as you can let the “Twilight” thing go, and give her a chance to be Mary Lou, I think she suits the role.

  3. I adore Kerouac’s writing but, frankly, the film is awful. Beautiful to look at but there is no brain there, despite its best intentions. I don’t think a film of his books should be made, really, I think the writing speaks for itself.

    1. The writing is definitely an emotional read, which makes it nearly impossible to translate to film. I thought the director did a great job depicting it, considering how hard it must have been, but I can understand where others wouldn’t enjoy it.
      Thank you for your comment & opinion. I like it when followers can see different viewpoints in one place.

      1. Mercy buckets for your response, madame! I think it should have been made a long time ago, not under contemporary influences. I mean… Kristen Stewart? And the guy from Tron? Did they even read the book, or was it just another job? I mean check out Marlon Brando in this clip. He should have been Neal Cassady.

      2. I understand the actors seem to be the biggest complaint, but I try to judge actors on individual movies rather than their streak, and I thought they did really well. However, they’re probably were better actors for the parts.

    1. Yes. That’s what the “Beat Generation” is like and about. I think that’s why it’s important for people to consider that before and while watching it. If drugs and sex is something one minds watching, then they probably won’t like this movie.

  4. Shannon, thanks for this. I’m also a great fan of Kerouac and anything beat. Whenever I go to San Francisco I hang out at City Lights and Vesuvius Bar. I’m not sure about the movie, but I’ll check it out. I’m also going to reblog on Writing Whims.

  5. Reblogged this on Writing Whims and commented:
    While I don’t profess to be in the league of Kerouac, I did keep my copy of On the Road close while traveling down Route 66 in 2007. My novel Live from the Road is my modern female version of a road trip.

  6. I adore Kerouac!
    I read the book a few years ago and got to see the latest film adaption in a tiny little theatre in Edinburgh, loved it! 🙂

  7. I mentioned in my personal essay, “David Brubeck and the Birth of Something New”, about my adventures in San Francisco, CA. In particular the Beat Poets et al, and how they came to involved in the “scene”.

    During that time right after WWII, my premise is that San Francisco was experiencing an artistic re-birth, what I call, “the City’s, Golden Age.” It wasn’t just because of the prolific poetry being produced at the time, but because poetry, visual arts and music were all experiencing a new crescendo of experimentation. New boundaries and possibilities in each respective genre were being explored. The vibe after the WWII in the arts was teaming with excitement. And San Francisco, was a ripe receptacle to contain and disseminate this artistic energy.

    Kerouac’s On The Road, captures the “vibe” of that generation. So does David Brubeck’s, “Take Five”, and David Parks oil painting, “Kids on Bikes” and Jay DeFeo’s, “The Rose”. It’s the same vibe that launched Allen Ginsberg’s,”Howl” and how his poetic voice, the voice of the Beat Generation, came to recognition. All these artist and more, broke through established boundaries and societal norms.

    All these artist recognized the societal and artistic constraints of their generation and rebelled against them. Ferlinghetti’s, City Lights Book Store, in his own way began from a need to publish unpublishable works by unknown authors. By the way, if you’re ever in the “City”, you must go there, their Beat Generation literature is defining.

    My point is that, like Andalusian culture 1200’s, a backlash of innovation and new artistic heights are achieved through, “going beyond the norm”. This innovation not only defines “its” generation, but these new artistic paradigms add fodder to the canon of innovation for subsequent generations.

    Maria Rosa Menocal the author of, “The Ornament of The World”, confidently points out that there wouldn’t have been an Italian Renaissance, without Andalusian Toledo. The Alcana of Toledo was responsible for the majority of book translations for Europe as a whole. Andalusian poets, both Muslim and Jews were breaking barriers in that genre and as a consequence there was a revival in literature. Much like the Beats of San Francisco, who broke through barriers in poetry, literature, music and the visual arts and who’s influence we still feel today.

    As you can see, I’m very inspired by the Beat Generation, so much so that I watched the movie, “Howl.” As a whole and because I am a fan of the Beats, I enjoyed the movie. I think Franco’s portrayal of Ginsberg was contrived and stiff but the animation and the court scenes were very cool. I’ve also watched, “On The Road”, too and that was in itself enjoyable. Though, I feel that Neal Cassady’s character was a little cold, it was still watchable. I also felt that Stewart’s, Mary Lou was on target and daring for her, in terms of roles she’s used to playing. If you are a fan of the Beats as I am, I recommend both these movies I’ve mentioned. But, why stop there? Go to San Francisco’s North Beach area and immerse yourself in the Beat Generation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s