Sunday, July 24, 2011

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

I finally got around to watching "William S. Burroughs: A Man Within," a 54-minute documentary by Yony Leyser that was part of Independent Lens, an Emmy Award-winning weekly series on PBS. Since it's been reviewed extensively (given my delay in watching it), I won't bore you with a standard review. Suffice to say that it was well-worth watching, and I highly recommend it to Burroughs fans as well as beat generation fans in general.

Some highlights include the many interviews with Burroughs colleagues and confidant(e)s such as John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, etc., and lots of never-before-seen footage. It's narrated by actor Peter Weller, and features a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth. The documentary covers the highlights of Burroughs' life, from his heroin addiction to his estranged relationship with his son to his shotgun art to killing his wife playing William Tell, the latter event leading to his becoming a writer of such classics as Naked Lunch and Junky.

Burroughs, speaking of that event, quotes Edwin Arlington Robinson:
‎There are mistakes too monstrous for remorse
To fondle or to dally with, and failures
That only fate's worst fumbling in the dark
Could have arranged so well.

If you get a chance to watch "A Man Within," seize the opportunity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That film was not made by PBS. It was made as a feature-length film and cut down in half for a PBS broadcast.