With a film version of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” about to be released and next month’s Sundance fest premiering two films that deal with the Beat Generation (“Kill Your Darlings,” a fictional portrait of beat legends Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs; and Michael Polish’s adaptation of Kerouac’s “Big Sur”), it’s a perfect time to remember counter-cultural icon William S. Burroughs, one of the founding fathers of the movement. Actually, anytime is a perfect time to remember Burroughs, the radical thinker, “Naked Lunch” author and all-around-subversive rabble-rouser, whose Thanksgiving Day prayer remains a favorite YouTube clip. With the man in mind, there’s a worthy Kickstarter campaign, with just one week to go, that’s aiming to re-release and remaster the seminal 1983 doc “Burroughs: The Movie.”
Currently only available in used VHS copies on Amazon.com for $24.95, the documentary, which premiered at the 21st New York Film Festival in 1983, explores the real-life Burroughs in action, along with many of his contemporaries including Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Francis Bacon, Herbert Hunke, Patti Smith, Terry Southern, and Lauren Hutton. Directed by the late Howard Brookner–whose nephew, Aaron Brookner is behind the restoration efforts–the documentary crew behind the film is just as legendary, with sound recording by Jim Jarmusch and cinematography by Tom DiCillo, fellow NYU classmates and close friends of Brookner’s.
According to the Kickstarter site, Aaron Brookner found a single print of the film in good condition and embarked on the project to digitally remaster it and make it available to the public, hopefully right in time for the centennial of Burroughs’ birth, on Feb 5, 1914.