Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jack Kerouac's Classic Novel 'On the Road' Finally Hitting the Big Screen

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jack Kerouac's Classic Novel 'On the Road' Finally Hitting the Big Screen

Article excerpt

Classic novel 'On the Road' finally a film


TORONTO - Filmmakers have long dreamt about adapting Jack Kerouac's beloved 1957 book "On the Road" for the big screen, but when it came time for director Walter Salles to finally get a crack at it, he decided the project needed to wait even longer.

Inspired by Kerouac's real-life adventures with his friend Neal Cassady, the novel chronicles the booze-soaked, drug-fuelled cross-country road trips taken by young friends and lovers of the free-wheeling Beat Generation.

Soon after it was published, Kerouac tried to persuade Marlon Brando to star with him in a film version of "On the Road." Decades passed before the rights were sold to Francis Ford Coppola in 1979. Prominent directors including Jean-Luc Godard and Gus Van Sant were considered to helm the film. But it wasn't until 2004 -- when Salles released "The Motorcycle Diaries," his biopic about revolutionary Che Guevara -- that the adaptation finally began to move forward.

To help face the overwhelming pressure of filming the classic book, Salles committed to learning everything there was to know about Kerouac, his friends and the Beatnik culture that inspired the novel. He recreated the roadtrips outlined in the book and filmed a documentary along the way.

He didn't rush it -- the process took the better part of five years.

"I understood the passion I had for the book was not enough of a passport to do the adaptation immediately and this is why I did the documentary," Salles said during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

"We met the characters of the book who are still alive, poets from the same generation as Kerouac ... it allowed me to build a much more in-depth understanding of the social, political, cultural background behind it and somehow diminished the pressure of doing (the film), because we had a much better understanding of what the film should be than in the beginning. …

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