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James Franco stars as the young Allen Ginsberg – poet, counter-culture adventurer and chronicler of the Beat Generation. In his famously confessional style, Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career, the poem HOWL. Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, HOWL is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (Strathairn) sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Hamm) argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as a host of unusual witnesses (Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams, Alesssandro Nivola) pit generation against generation and art against fear in front of conservative Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban).


  • James Franco in conversation with directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman - an all new feature length audio commentary.
  • Holy! Holy! Holy! The Making of Howl - featuring directors Epstein and Friedman and stars James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Treat Williams, Bob Balaban, poet Anne Waldman, and others.
  • Directors' research tapes - original interviews with Ginsberg's friends and collaborators Eric Drooker, Peter Orlovsky, Tuli Kupferberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Steven Taylor.
  • Allen Ginsberg reads Howl - never before seen footage from a performance in 1995 at the Knitting Factory in New York.
  • James Franco reads Howl audio feature.

Exclusive to Blu-Ray Release:

  • Allen Ginsberg reads Sunflower Sutra and Pull My Daisy - never before seen footage from a performance in 1995 at the Knitting Factory in New York.
  • Q&A with directors Epstein and Friedman moderated by John Cameron Mitchell (director of HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH and RABBIT HOLE) at the Provincetown Film Festival.
To purchase PPR permits for screening in a classroom or library or to a public group of less than 50 people when no admission is charged, please use this listing