At the time of the famous oscenity trial portrayed in this film (1957), i was 12 years old and quite unaware of its significance. Since then i've read a bit of Ginsberg, including Howl -- he's not one of my favorites -- and was more or less familiar with the historical background of the "Beat generation". But even though it ddidn't give me much new information, for me this film was gripping in its recreation of Ginsberg, his milieu and his creative process.
This "hybrid" documentary, cutting back and forth between biographical sketches of Ginsberg, a restaged public reading of the poem (Franco really shines here), an interview with the poet, the stylishly mounted courtroom drama, and the animated illumination of the poem itself, works beautifully. The aura of authenticity is such that the actual footage and photos from the time fall into place quite seamlessly. Yet it's not the historical interest (which is considerable) but the timeless quality, which Ginsberg himself was striving for, that comes through in this film.
Recommended for anybody who cares about the fruitful tension between the artist and the society that sometimes reviles and sometimes revives him or her. As for extras, there's a fairly straightforward making-of, and that's about it. But the film itself is rich enough that i expect to see it a few more times before it's done with me and my friends.