Kill Your Darlings, released in 2013 and set in 1944, depicts the life of several famous poets and writers who went on to shape the Beat Generation. Directed by John Krokidas audiences are able to gain an insight into the lives of these innovators of the written word in a way that has never been done before. The film is quite possibly one of the most quotable films I have ever watched, the entire script is written like a poem and features lines such as; ‘I love first times. I want my entire life to be composed of them, life is only interesting when it is wide.’ And, ‘Some things, once you’ve loved them, become yours forever.’
Allen Ginsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe) was, and still is, an incredibly famous poet, he is perhaps known best for genius lines such as ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness’, the message of which rings as true in 2016 as it did in 1955. It is his personal life however that has captured the interest of so many people worldwide, and Krokidas has produced a singularly special film that captures a fleeting moment in time that shaped the life and work of so many of the writers that went on to subvert traditional art forms into the ones we recognise today. Along with Ginsberg, Kerouac and many other famous American poets and writers, spearheaded the famous Beat Generation that the likes of The Beatles, (who even changed their band name as an ode to the Generation) and Bob Dylan, spent a great deal of time with the group and in fact many of his songs were influenced by them and their ideals.
Kill Your Darlings follows the story follows a group of young men at University who broke the mould of what was considered to be ‘proper’ poetry and literature. They explored sexuality and redefined the rules of traditional form and metre, as well as pushing the boundaries in their private lives. Ginsberg became involved with a man who committed a murder and the film examines the ways in which such an event change their lives and shaped their creative work.
Dane DeHaan gives an outstanding performance as Lucian Carr, an extremely disturbed person with some cracking one liners, from ‘I’m only good at beginnings’ to, ‘Be careful, you are not in wonderland.’ Ginsberg fell in love with Carr who killed his ex-lover and was the inspiration behind a great deal of Ginsberg’s work. At a time when being homosexual was a crime the turmoil these men felt is perfectly and sincerely conveyed by the film in which the costumes, sets and soundtrack play as much of a vital role as the actors, working together to create beautiful cinematography.
Radcliffe and DeHaan share an intimate scene which they have been questioned mercilessly about, both agree that it was simply part of the job, however DeHaan has said that he found it very hard to separate himself from the destructive mind set of Carr, and he has even admitted to falling in love with Radcliffe in real life. This is not hard to believe as after having seen the film you are left with a deep sadness and an intrigue that has not been sated, you truly believe that these actors either are the people they are portraying, or have a very firm grasp of who these poets and writers were. You are also left with more questions than answers, fortunately many answers can be found in Ginsberg’s poems.
I felt personally touched by this film; the exceptional performances coupled with the heart breaking story of love and murder work together to create the perfect storm that leaves you with a feeling of complete awe at the fearlessness of a group of men unafraid to step outside of conventions and stand up for freedom of speech in art. Finally to end with yet another brilliant line from an incredible script; ‘Like all lovers and sad people, I am a poet.’ It is as if the writers on this film took inspiration from the Beat Generation and have without a doubt done Ginsberg, Carr and Kerouac justice.
Tags: Allen Ginsberg, Art, Beat Generation, Bob Dylan, Cinematography, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe, Freedom, John Krokidas, Kerouac, Kill your darlings, Love, Murder, Poems, Poets, Reviews, Romance, Sexuality, The Beatles, University, Writers