James Franco as Hart Crane

James Franco has inhabited another role of a poet for a biopic movie. In the semi-new film The Broken Tower, he takes on the role of early American Modernist poet Hart Crane. The film was written, produced, and directed by Franco. I have not seen it yet, though I do plan to rent it from Amazon, one of the only places I’ve found it to be available. It also opened recently in some larger cities, including New York. I liked Franco quite a bit as Allen Ginsberg in the film Howl. However, that film was different in the sense Franco did not direct it or write it, and the film mostly centered around the obscenity trial the poem caused in the 1950s, shortly after it was published by City Lights Books. It only covered very few parts of Ginsberg’s life.

The Broken Tower centers mostly around Crane’s life, including some of his homosexual relationships, poverty, and suicide. In the short trailer, which you can watch below, there are scenes of Franco reading Crane’s poetry, and I’m not sure how well that will translate to the  screen, as Crane’s work is incredibly dense, whereas “Howl” and much of Ginsberg’s work is not as high-flown.

The New York Times’ review of the film mentions that most of the film is shot in black and white, with a handheld camera.  It also criticizes the film in stating, “But despite earnest attempts, Mr. Franco can’t bring the fervency of Crane’s poetry to life in the extensive recitations.” When I see the movie soon, perhaps I’ll follow-up with a blog post and write about how The Broken Tower compares to the film Howl.

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