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On the Road - Film Review

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by Lisa Gulak (subscribe)
Traveller, physical fitness enthusiast, and freelance writer living in the beautiful country of Canada.
Published April 2nd 2013
Escape conformity and enjoy the road
"The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like Roman candles across the night."

This famous line from Jack Kerouac's novel and featured in the film is classic beatnik expressing the desire to live free and reject the orderliness of a regular life.

The movie "On the Road" is an adaptation of the 1957 autobiographical novel of the same name by Jack Kerouac. The novel is considered one of the best examples of Beat generation literature. The Beat generation were post Second World War writers who came to prominence in the 1950s. The cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired involved rejection of standards, style innovations, drugs, alternative lifestyles, interest in Eastern religion, rejection of materialism, and the portrayal of the human condition in all its glory.

It is directed by Walter Salles, who directed "The Motorcycle Diaries", and features an ensemble cast that includes Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, and Viggo Mortensen. The two male leads, Sam Riley as Sal Paradise (based on Jack Kerouac) and Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady), perform strongly in the roles of aspiring writer and charismatic hedonist, respectively. Kristen Stewart displays more range as an actress as the free spirit and sexually liberated MaryLou.

The movie is filmed in a lyrical style and displays the characters living life against a backdrop of poetry, jazz, and drug use. The characters reject conformity and undertake a series of road trips beginning in 1947, where they encounter a variety of interesting and unorthodox people. Both the novel and movie have the themes of meaning and belonging at a time of conformity and society's fear and mistrust of outsiders and those who don't conform.

While many feel that Kerouac's novel was unfilmable, the strong performances and beautiful scenery make up for any shortcomings. The humble road trip and freedom of the open road reflects a simplicity of life and the strength that comes from striking out on one's own and being a trailblazer.
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Why? Enjoy the freedom of the open road in a classic road trip experience.
Where: DVD / Blu-ray
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