Road Movies and a Book (that is, a beloved road book is now a movie)

I’ve always liked road movies.  Hollywood has created some good ones starting way back with well-worn worn classics such as “It Happened One Night” (for me, a surprisingly very funny film) and “Sullivan’s Travels.”  From the 1950s, “The Long Long Trailer,” starring comedienne Lucille Ball, is another memorably humorous road movie.  Jump to the 1960s and 70s there is “Easy Rider;” “Harry and Tonto;” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” among others.  In the 1980s and 90s it was “Rain Man,” “Wild at Heart,” “Thelma & Louise,” and “True Romance.”   During the past 10 years we’ve had “Sideways,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “Borat.”   Also in the past ten years, for people who like road stories based on a real person’s experiences, there was “The Motorcycle Diaries” adapted from the youthful travel journals of South American doctor and activist, Che Guevara.

If reading is a favorite pastime, there are any number of novels that can fit the criteria of a road book.  One of the most well-known is On the Road written and published in the late 1950s by beloved Beat generation writer, Jack Kerouac.   This book depicts, for the most part, the maniacal travels across the U.S. and into Mexico of Sal Paradise and his friend, Dean Moriarty.  Featured are a contingency of several other friends/cohorts who either accompany them or are visited along the way.   The book is believed to be loosely autobiographical and based on the author, Kerouac, himself and his friends.

Now finally someone has taken on the task of turning On the Road into a movie.  What is interesting is that the director who is tackling this is Walter Salles, the director of the 2004 road film “The Motorcycle Diaries” (based, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, on the journey chronicled by Argentinian activist/doctor Che Guevara when he and his buddy travelled up the continent of South America from Argentina to Venezuela in the late 1950s).  “The Motorcycle Diaries” received some critical acclaim and perhaps gave filmmaker Walter Salles the courage to make a film of the Kerouac classic.  I both admire Salles as well as feeling afraid for him. It is my hope that this film “On the Road” proves to be a worthy depiction of a book that captured the hearts and minds of late 20th century American readers and vagabonds.

Currently this new film “On the Road” is among the movies being shown, I believe,  at the annual Cannes Film Festival in southern France this month (May 16 – May 27).  I haven’t heard anything yet, good or bad, about how the movie has turned out.  I’m going to try and see at a local multiplex as soon as it is released in the U.S.


One thought on “Road Movies and a Book (that is, a beloved road book is now a movie)

  1. Want to leave a link here to a piece I stumbled upon today on Huffington Post by a Frenchman, Bernard-Henri Levy. It’s entitled “Kerouac at the Cinema.” Monsieur Levy is an intellectual and draws upon a wealth of knowledge about writers — he has some interesting insights AND talks about the Walter Salles film of “On the Road,” as he says in anticipation, “we shall see.”

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