Fifty five years after it was published, Jack Kerouac’s largely autobiographical classic, ‘On the Road‘, is brought to the big screen by Walter Salles, Brazilian director of Motorcycle Diaries fame. Starring Sam Riley as Saland and Garrett Hedlund as his hero, the hedonist and mystic, Dean Moriarty, alongside Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, the film is reintroducing the world to the infamous Beat Generation, a generation whose principle avatar, was of course, Kerouac, but which also included the likes of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, both of whom feature in the novel, and whose most famous works- the poem ‘Howl’ and novel, ‘Naked Lunch’, paint a similar picture of itinerancy, drug taking and free love.
Currently on display at the Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris, is what Kerouac referred to as the ‘scroll’, a 36 metre long ream of teletype paper cut to size, taped together and onto which he had typed the original manuscript version of ‘On the Road’ which reads as a stream of consciousness with minimal punctuation and without margins or paragraph breaks, a truly unique visual and textual object well worth a trip on the Eurostar to see.
When Kerouac published his epic novel, ‘On the Road’ in 1957, he had only one man in mind for the film adaptation- the inimitable, the irresistible and incredibly handsome, Marlon Brando. Kerouac wrote to him but received no reply, dying before seeing his vision dramatized on screen. Francis Ford Coppola bought the novel’s film rights in the Seventies but after several false starts, the project was abandoned, lying dormant until now. Be warned, the Beat is back!
On The Road is out on 21st September