Opinion: ‘Kill Your Darlings’ displays respectable biographical events

Megan L. Brown

Megan Brown

Megan L. Brown is a sophomore news major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

John Krokidas’ biographical film “Kill Your Darlings” stars well-known “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe as poet Allen Ginsberg. The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, taking in its first positive reviews. The film takes on the tragic event of Beat Generation figure David Kammerer’s murder by Lucien Carr in 1944 and brings together the great poets of the beat generation: Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Before Ginsberg became the beloved, bearded, Buddhist poet of the 1960’s counterculture, he was a thin, apprehensive Columbia University freshman who befriended a group of rebellious classmates. The film shows the young poets before they were legends.

Ginsberg strongly opposed economic materialism, militarism and sexual repression during the time of his work.

“Howl” criticizes the damaging forces of capitalism and conventionality which he saw in the United States. Ginsberg first read his poem Oct. 7, 1955, to a crowd of about 150 at San Francisco’s Six Gallery.

City Lights published “Howl” in 1956, and soon the poem, the poet and the San Franciscan Beats were known throughout the country. In 1957, the poem attracted extensive publicity when it became the focus of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when homosexual acts seemed to be a crime in the U.S. Critics, poets and academics testified during the trial to redeem the social value of “Howl.” It was ruled not obscene, and City Lights was exonerated.

I believe in individuality and the freedom of speech. I find the kind of writing Ginsberg did to be lost from our current generation. People shouldn’t be afraid to go beyond the bounds of reality or authority when it comes to writing, or expressing thoughts.

In the film “Kill Your Darlings” we are able to see the young, genuine poets such as Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs become the genius writers in which they were. Radcliffe prevails as a young Ginsberg and gives his best performance to date, yet the focus of the film isn’t primarily on Ginsberg. The center of the film focuses on the relationship between the poet’s friend Carr and Carr’s former teacher, Kammerer. David became increasingly desperate and possessive during their relationship which was marked by obsession, sadness, violence and tragedy.

This tragic tale was unknown to people for many years. Sharing the story now, retrospectively, recovers lost biographical information and the reimaging of a chapter in recent gay history.

The intensity of some poetry and a person’s commitment to it can be both good and bad. Poetry can be about expression to hidden and dangerous truths, but it also holds freedom to whatever you want it to be and symbolizes other freedoms.

For many of us, we know who Ginsberg was and saw what he became and how the world changed around him. But in 1944, there were undeniably enormous, alarming risks, in which “Kill Your Darlings” represents in a creative and thrilling way.