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Saturday, March 23, 2013

'On the Road': The Road Odyssey

Finally, the much-awaited, much-touted road odyssey is here!
The film was long due. The talks about the film had started to assume historic proportions of their own. The book had come out in the Fifties and since then people had been keenly anticipating a film version. No that the film is here, and have been seen my most of us privileged ones, it is time to present a take on the same.
I had read the book just as I had stepped into college. A dear friend of mine had given me the initiation on Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The latter's poems had formed the motif in many a work of fiction in Bangla as well. The author Buddhadev Guha for example had referred to the philosophy behind Ginsberg's works. The poet and novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay too had referred to the Beat Generation and the influence that they had on the youth of their times. I would often wonder what it would be like to see them in flesh and blood, to be catapulted to the heady life that they lived. Reading the book, a biographical novel, open my the vistas of my mind, although I have to admit that it took a lot of effort on my part to learn and admire the nuances, the signposts, largely ignorant that I was about American history of that period.
As I saw the film, the memories of reading the book, my introduction to a whole new world, came alive. Such personal associations are cherished by any individual, I'm sure. The book borrowed from the American Library had to be renewed twice so that I could afford to have a blast with the characters: Sal, Dean, Marylou, and Carlo Marx. The film has cast a whole gamut of talented actors in the key roles and has tried to recapture the late Forties brilliantly. But, I rue the fact that people who haven't read the book or are familiar with the backdrop cannot fathom the dramatic intensity or the historic significance by merely watching the film. The road odyssey is visually brilliant, sometimes stunning, but the 'trippy' yet exuberant trip remains a stilted and somewhat flawed documentation and some of the characters too fail to come alive as they do on the pages of the book.
Garrett Hedlund, as Dean Moriarty, steals the show. Sam Riley plays Sal, and Kristen Stewart plays Marylou, both of whom I found to be earnest, quite so. Also in the cast are Viggo Mortensen, Tom Sturridge, Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Terence Howard, and Steve Buscemi.
Éric Gautier is the director of cinematography, Gustavo Santaolalla has provided with the musical score, and the film has been directed by Walter Salles.


Joy said...

I would completely agree with your take on Garrett Hedlund playing his character to the hilt. I bet Marlon Brando or Brad Pitt (who were earlier in the talks for the same role) couldn't have been better.
However, I don't think Kristen Stewart was apt for the role of Marylou. Sam Riley too seemed passive and distant at times.
The screenplay seems to have taken only the essentials from the original novel and has made it into a completely different kind of film, which though not exactly disappointing isn't a classic on its own.

Vicky Mukerjee said...

Thanks for the post. I loved the film. Watched it for Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund. Hadn't known that the book was a cult classic.
Will try to read it now.
I found the characters to be very powerful, each in their own way.
And Garrett, as Dean, was simply awesome!

dougie said...

Yet another path-breaking film this one.
Would have loved to know more about how exactly it compares with the book.
I agree with the criticism levelled by many against the film being too superficial.

sumit said...

It tells us about the time when some rebels just chose to break out of the shackles of convention. Today, when we are again merely slavish soul-less beings with a herd-like mentality, the film shines brightly.

Saahil said...

Garrett Hedlund is the new sex idol.
After 'On the Road', he is getting worshipped by hordes of testosterone crazy fans, as expected.

Ronnit said...

A cool movie. Complex equations with friends, a whole bunch of hedonistic ideas, and illuminating journeys....... on the whole, a fascinating watch.

Krishh said...

I love Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge and Garrett Hedlund - reason enough to like the film.

raj said...

It was an eye-opener of a film for me. Loved the visuals, loved the scenes of passion and frustration alike.

ranjann said...

Kristen Stewart was quite a revelation..... pun intended.