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3rd October 2012

Preview: ‘On the Road’

Joshua Brown explains why he is so excited about the upcoming Kerouac adaption

The much-anticipated On the Road is nearly upon us, and despite the excitement that surrounds Walter Salles’ new film there is also a touch of apprehension. This apprehension is understandable when you consider the difficulties in extracting the brilliance of a novel and adapting it for the big screen. This responsibility largely lies with the director, Walter Salles, who has been given the task of translating one of the finest pieces of twentieth century literature. Jack Kerouac’s awe inspiring novel, which is largely based on his own experiences when he took to the road in 1947, helped not only define an era but give an identity to a lost generation. The ‘beat generation’, for those that don’t know, were a group of writers in the 50s that stood against conventional society, instead favouring freedom in sexuality, drugs and modern jazz (a hard concept for most of you to fathom I’m sure).

It is a tale of struggling young writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) who’s father has recently passed away and, in the attempt to rid himself of writers block, takes to the road with his newly acquired friend and idol Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). It is a journey lacking in ideology and morality; instead it is one in search of inspiration, sex and music. The relationship between these two men is at the heart of the story full of extreme highs and extreme lows. Dean Moriarty is the most enigmatic and complex character in Kerouac’s novel, and such an iconic literary figure would pose a great challenge for any actor. Garett Hedlund, however, has been praised for his performance in a film that has been pulled up by some earlier reviewers for lacking direction and for having a feel of self-congratulation. These characteristics could not be further from the truth of Salles’ previous films, such as the Motorcycle Diaries, so it is intriuging to find if these reviewers are right.

This is still a film to keep a sharp eye out for. The trailer teases you in by showing beautiful cinematography of the American landscape mixed with scenes of adventure, resounding in pieces of Kerouac’s phenomenal writing. I highly doubt that the film will match the heights achieved by Kerouac’s novel, but matching those heights is asking the impossible and not a reason to boycott what should be a highly entertaining and exciting film.

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