Kill Your Darlings (2013) is based on the real life account, involving some of the famed poets from the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, before they became famous.
Kill Your Darlings Blog HeaderThe Beats before The Beats
Before Allen Ginsberg became one of the greatest literary geniuses to have existed in America, in the previous century, he was just a geeky young student at Colombia University. Yet appearances aside, young Ginsberg got into all kinds of mischief, along with his group of friends, during his university years, in the 1940’s. Set a decade before the literary revolution of the Beat Generation, this group of misfits included his contemporaries, fellow poets, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Unfortunately, all three of them were roped into, being indirectly involved in, a murder of a poet (a college Professor), who never got a chance to become famous for his intellect, but rather for the way he was killed, and made infamous as a sexual predator, just because he was gay. The murderer was released after two years, on the grounds that it was an ‘‘Honour Slaying’’, from forced homosexual advances, and that the murderer acted upon self-defence.

Kill Your Darlings, reminded me of some great films based on rebellious students, set in strict institutes. The likes of, A Yank at Oxford (1938), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), 3 Idiots (2009); and coming-of-age films like; To Sir, with Love (1967), Dead Poets Society (1989); which was actually set during the height of the Beat Generation, i.e. the 1950’s; School Ties (1992); which too was set in 50’s; Dangerous Minds (1995), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and The History Boys (2006), to name some, out of many. While, like Kill Your Darlings; A Yank at Oxford, Mona Lisa Smile and 3 Idiots; are to do with college students, the rest of the films mentioned here are set in high school. But what’s common about these movies; either based on actual events, or out and out fiction; is the fact that it deals with anti-establishment, and ironically, as well as trying to fit in. These films are about youngsters (and sometimes adults/teachers as well), who can think for themselves; with a brain of their own; yet sometimes shy intellects take time to come out of their shell. And when they do, they fear nothing.

But that’s where the similarities end. For none of these films mentioned above, has a violent crime taking place. This is where Kill Your Darlings differs, and it’s based on an actual real life incident. While tragic deaths are seen in a few of movies mentioned here; either through suicide or accident; none of them result in murder. Thus this movie, ends up being a fusion of very varied genres, including, a crime drama, a love story (love triangle), a thriller, plus a biographical film, all roped into one. Yet the movie is less of a historical film, about the poets, that made them the famed Beats, and more to do with the love-triangle, that leads to a notorious tragedy the Beats unfortunately were associated with, during their college years.

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg  RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg
RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, leads the cast, with Dane DeHaan (as Lucien Carr), Jack Huston (as Jack Kerouac), Ben Foster (as William Burroughs) and Michael C. Hall (as David Kammerer); making up the group of friends (and two secret lovers within) and academics, living in New York, far away from the battle fields of Europe, during the Second World War. Three of the friends from this group are students at Columbia University. The whole cast is superb in their respective roles. Interesting to note that the lead character here, portraying the famous American poet of the 20th Century, was actually played by a British born actor. And he did a remarkable job of it.

Radcliffe was spot-on, as Ginsberg. On the home front; we see his troubled life as a youngster, taking care of his deranged mother suffering from a mental illness that was never properly diagnosed; and his father’s indifference to it, and later dealing with his father’s new girlfriend while his mother is being treated at a mental hospital. In college, his seduction and psychological manipulation, at the hands of Lucien Carr, who uses Ginsberg, as he uses everyone in his life, including his secret, older, lover, David Kammerer. Kammerer was in his late 20’s when he met Carr, and Carr was still a young boy aged 14. Soon they started having an affair. Though, Kammerer was wrong to do so, as it would seem as a paedophiliac act on his part; he was genuinely in love with Carr. Carr too was in love with Kammerer, but couldn’t accept it himself, for the older he got, he used men who fell in love with him, to get things done for himself. In his college years, Carr got Kammerer to do his homework for him, and later Carr did the same with Ginsberg. Young Ginsberg was really innocent, thus suffered due to his affection towards Carr. And Kammerer suffered because he could not let go of his love for a man (by the now an adult Carr) who felt the same, but was ashamed to admit it. This shame Carr felt, resulted in him committing a crime in one of the most unspeakable ways possible. The movie begins with this said crime, filmed beautifully, by director John Krokidas, in his debut feature film. The camera zooms onto a half-naked, bloodstained body of actor Dane DeHaan, submerged to the waist in water, carrying a bloodied dead body in his arms. The scene is pure artistic, poetic (in)justice, depicting love, sex and death; a hint of what’s to come; intercut with a verbal clash between DeHaan and Radcliffe, on either side of the prison bars. And the title thrown, one word at a time, in quick succession, onto the screen – ‘KILL’ ‘YOUR’ ‘DARLINGS’. Beautifully made, by a director, whose future creations, am really looking forward to watching.

A superb representation of, 3 Conflicted Souls (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer); among 4 Poets (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), who made up a group of 5 friends, (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), including a love triangle, Ginsberg was part of, among 2 secret lovers (Lucien Carr and David Kammerer).

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

Allen Ginsberg, among the famed giants of modern American literature; coined in as The Beat Generation, of the 1950’s; has been portrayed by many a actors, from George Netesky (in 1970), to Ron Rifkin (1987), to David Markey (89’), to John Turturro (99’), to Ron Livingston (00’), to David Cross in I’m Not There. (2007); and more recently; James Franco (10’), Tom Sturridge (12’) & now of course Radcliffe. Besides Radcliffe’s brilliant performance, the only other cinematic version of Ginsberg I’ve seen, is that of Cross in I’m Not There., and that too, I hardly remember Cross’ role, in that excellent Bob Dylan bio-pic, where varied incarnations of Dylan were portrayed by a potpourri of six different actors. Incidentally, David Cross, who starred as Allen Ginsberg in I’m Not There., also appears in Kill Your Darlings, this time as Ginsberg’s father, Louis Ginsberg (a published poet himself, though not a renowned one, like his son ended up being).

Interesting fact: Ginsberg was a practicing Jewish Buddhist (Jubu) by choice, since 1950 (in his early 20’s), until his death in 1997. A Jubu, is a Jewish person who practices Buddhism, without denouncing ones own faith.

Radcliffe & I
Back 2007, whilst living in Sydney, I managed to watch most of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), when it was telecast in a local channel down under. Prior to that, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, I wasn’t that keen on the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films, as it was a series of children’s fantasy films. But since living in England (2002 – 2005), I had heard such good things about it, that when it was shown on the small screen, in Sydney, in 07’; as a true film buff; I decided to give it go. Though I didn’t get to see the finalé of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I felt it was a superb children’s movie, to come out in the 21st century. Around the same time, Daniel Radcliffe actually came to Sydney, to star in the Oz movie, December Boys (2007). And he came on the TV show, Rove (2007 – 2009), hosted by Rove McManus. I don’t remember whether I saw Radcliffe live on Rove first, or on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, whilst living in Australia. Most probably on Rove. I automatically liked Radcliffe’s, down to earth, friendly persona; ‘twas a fun interview. When Radcliffe was asked who he’d turn gay for (a question Rove McManus asks all the celebs he interviews, including when he interviewed, Kevin Rudd, the then, soon to be, Prime Minister of Australia), Radcliffe answered ‘Albert Einstein’. Smart answer! Nobody on Rove had ever come up with a non-sex-appeal, intellectual, personality’s name; as a person he/she would go gay for; at least not in the episodes I ever saw. In the same episode, Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron appeared as well, to promote the musical, Hairspray (2007). Although I don’t recall, Nikki Blonsky’s answer, I remember that Efron didn’t answer the, ‘who he’d turn gay for ’, question, and sat there tight lipped. Which seemed pretty rude. But none the less, an interesting show; with Radcliffe’s knee length socks (discovered when he was asked about his hairy legs), contrasting to Efron’s sockless feet, and Radcliffe’s well timed gulp, all roped into the show’s jokes; making that episode of Rove, a very jovial experience. I never got to watch December Boys, but did enjoy watching Hairspray back then (guilty pleasure  😉 ).

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film. (L-R)  Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film.
(L-R) Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

Some years prior to my brush with Rove & Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in Sydney 07’), I had actually watched The Tailor of Panama (2001); a pretty good movie, with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis; which apparently also starred the little Radcliffe. But to be quite honest I don’t remember him in it at all. In 2007, he also came in the latest stage adaptation of the famous play by Peter Shaffer, Equus. It was all over the newspapers, Down Under. I’d have loved to watch that. I’ve seen the excellent, 1977, Sidney Lumet directed, movie adaptation of Equus, starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth. One of my favourite Lumet creations of the Big Screen (see my post Sidney Lumet & His Films from last year, June 2014, plus my Set of Seven on IMDB, from April 2011).

Post that, back in SL, around five years ago, I rented the DVD (unfortunately a pirated copy, pretty bad quality, and the only kind of DVD’s that can be found all over here; and I hate pirated DVD’s, thus I do buy good original films, when and if, I do go abroad – Europe, India & Australia) of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Thus that’s the only complete ‘Harry Potter’ film I’ve seen till date, and I felt it was a pretty good movie, though not as great as the hype surrounding the franchise. Then in February/March 2012, I was in New Delhi, India, and saw The Woman in Black (2012), starring Daniel Radcliffe, on the Big Screen there. The film was pretty pathetic (see my list of critiques titled Oscar Winners … and then some 2012 from March 2012, on IMDB), with the only saving grace being Radcliffe’s superb performance. He was brilliant, in such a mature role, as a father and a widower. I already liked his personality, when I saw him on Rove, back in 2007, and when I saw him in The Woman in Black; though a pretty bad movie; by now I had even greater respect for him, as an actor. Since then, I haven’t seen any of his films, until I saw Kill Your Darlings.

Kill Your Darlings Blog Bottom - Poster

I watched Kill Your Darlings, last week, on the 22nd of July, 2015, when it was shown at the Goethe Institute (German Cultural Centre), here. Daniel Radcliffe celebrated his 26th Birthday on the 23rd of July, 2015.

Kill Your Darlings (2013) – A Must Watch!!!!!
My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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