Blu-ray Review: Burroughs: The Movie (Criterion Collection)

William S Burroughs was one of the leading players of the Beat Generation. Along with Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke and Jack Kerouac they changed the narrative around 1950s America for a whole generation. Burroughs himself is best known for his book Naked Lunch, which was published in 1959. Throughout his life he battled with heroin addiction, and whilst never really beating it he seemed to find a modicum of peace, living to the ripe old age of 83.

In his latter years, Burroughs became a counterculture icon, attracting a new entourage of young friends. These included Laurie Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant and Patti Smith. Howard Brookner was studying at New York University and began making a documentary about the author for his senior thesis. With the full cooperation of Burroughs he spent the next five years shooting the feature, becoming good friends and resulting in Burroughs: The Movie.

Brookner was given unprecedented access to Burroughs and the result is part life story, part tribute. The man himself takes centre stage and there are interviews with contemporaries including Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg, Terry Southern and Herbert Huncke. What makes Burroughs: The Movie so fascinating is the wealth of material. It gives a unique insight into the man in a very organic way, whilst allowing him to tell it in his own words.

Special Edition Features:

  • New, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New interviews with filmmakers Jim Jarmusch, Aaron Brookner, and Tom DiCillo, as well as William S. Burrough’s friends and fellow writers James Grauerholz and Stew Meyer.
  • Rare outtakes
  • Footage from the 2014 New York Film Festival premiere of the film’s restoration
  • Thirty-minute experimental edit of the film from 1981 by inventor and photographer Robert E. Fulton Jr.
  • More!
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Luc Sante and a collage poster by artist Alison Mosshart

Burroughs: The Movie is released on Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Monday.

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