Art of the Real 728x90 Film Comment Film Society of Lincoln Center

Home Movies: What Happened to Kerouac?

By Violet Lucca

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Beat Surrender Pick

Kerouac

Whether you find them to be chauvinistic, culture-poaching typists or essential reading for youthful self-discovery, it’s incredibly difficult to find anything new to say about the Beats. And while Richard Lerner and Lewis MacAdams’s 1986 What Happened to Kerouac? will only serve to reinforce either view of their work and influence, its comprehensiveness and clean construction make it a must-see for anyone interested in documentary filmmaking. Comprised of archival interviews, slurred television appearances, and minimal scrolling text, the narrative circles from the booze-soaked, puffy-faced end of Kerouac’s life back to his glorious late nights in Times Square. It’s ideal for both novices and adepts. The second disc gathers up the documentary’s raw source material, allowing one to experience (among many other things) more of the insanity of Kerouac’s alternately sad and triumphant appearance on The William F. Buckley Show—this alone worth far more than the sticker price.