If you’re just catching up, as I am, after the long holiday weekend here in the U.S., the New York Times had a great piece Sunday on the challenges of bringing the much-beloved Beat Generation novels to the big screen.
Director Walter Salles’ version of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” opened at Cannes last week (it hits theaters this fall). The NYT reveals that Salles did his legwork for the book, interviewing surviving members of the movement and Kerouac’s biographers to get the movie just right.
Here’s the nut graf:
“Mr. Salles’s answer was to endear himself to virtually every living Beat poet, artist and philosopher with a stake in the book’s legacy while literally retracing Kerouac’s crisscrossing of the country with a Super 8 camera. In other words, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Among the Kerouac contemporaries Mr. Salles interviewed were the poets Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Diane di Prima and Amiri Baraka, as well as the Kerouac biographers Gerald Nicosia and Barry Gifford, who served as consultants on the film. The process consumed five of the eight years that the director has been toiling on the project, which had its premiere this month at the Cannes Film Festival and is expected to reach theaters in the fall.
“I was well aware that my passion for the book was not sufficient to justify launching into an adaptation straight away,” Mr. Salles, who is compiling the footage into a documentary, said by e-mail. “In fact, making the feature film ceased to be my main concern at the time. Understanding and getting to know these people better became my main goal.”
Read the full story here.