Big Sur may be my least favorite Jack Kerouac novel. While On the Road and The Subterraneans captured youth and restlessness, Big Sur relates the aged, alcoholic Kerouac. And perhaps that is why I don’t enjoy the book. Kerouac’s persona is one of such a broken down writer unable to cope with fame and personal relationships. Kerouac’s obsession with death and the chaos of meeting up with Neal Cassady once again drive the energy of the book.
Michael Polish’s new adaptation is an independent film and therefore nowhere near my Midwest town and so I had to stream from Amazon to my television. Perhaps this is the future of watching smaller budgeted films. The film is so well shot though and gives so many beautiful views of the locale in recreating Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s cabin near the beach where Kerouac would’ve stayed. The photography is so gorgeous I regret not being able to watch on the big screen.
I most admired the director’s decision to narrate the film with an abundance of Kerouac’s words. The words give the film an energy that matches the book–perhaps more so than Walter Salles’ recent On the Road adaptation.
Spent time this afternoon with Gerald Nicosia‘s Huffington Post article about his experiences working with the film makers of the On the Road film adaptation. I’m interested in his opinion because I enjoyed his book Memory Babeso much. Here he writes candidly about setting up a Beat boot camp for the actors and also becoming a bit starstruck. And I have to agree the Jose Rivera script had quite a bit missing in terms of Kerouac’s mad spirituality. I was sad not to see the Old Walking Saint character and the “Go moan for man” scenes or any stream of consciousness style scenes with voice-over narration. I have to say now that I’ve seen the film I’m more excited to see the Searching for On the Road documentary shot alongside Salles’ film. Also I wonder if Ann Charters has seen the film.
This Thanksgiving break I’ve finally made my way through Kerouac’s On the Road The Original Scroll. I’ve read excerpts and specific portions to compare to the novel/fiction version but never the entire book. I was most struck at the editor’s note in Book 4 that reveals a dog ate the last few feet of the work.