The film centers on legendary Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs and is widely recognized as an important piece of the documentary lexicon. According to Brookner’s nephew Aaron, however, very little effort has been put toward maintaining and preserving its legacy over the years.
“At that time, all I knew was there were faded VHS copies floating around and poor quality and uncredited versions up online. I grew up watching the movie on an old VHS. I loved the film but the quality was pretty terrible. I knew I was getting only part of the experience.”
Over the past three years, Aaron has been spearheading efforts to have the film digitally restored from a 16mm print stored in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
“It’s a bit of a dream come true,” he said. “It’s not as great as it would be to have Howard (and Burroughs) walking among us, but it feels like the next best thing. Howard can exist for 90 minutes at a time through his work. That’s the beauty of what he created.”
Origin story aside, Burroughs and his pal Allen Ginsberg will charm you with their banter in this exclusive clip from the restored version of the film, which you can watch in full below.
“Burroughs: The Movie” is scheduled to screen at 9pm on Thursday, October 9 at the Walter Reade Theater.