Big Sur

Synopsis: Sudden fame and a self-destructive lifestyle were taking a toll on Jack Kerouac's mind and body following the unparalleled success of the groundbreaking novel, On The Road. Once the handsome literary maverick and hero of the Beat Generation, Kerouac now sees only a vestige of his former self, ravaged by alcohol and drugs, aged beyond his years and tormented by self-doubt. Questioning his talent, his faith, and his mortality, Kerouac leaves New York for California, on a quest for redemption at an isolated, fog-banked cabin in the primitive landscape of the Big Sur woods. What ensues in those fateful 3 weeks of August, 1960, is both terrifying and revelatory. While Kerouac is able to find beauty and elation in his surroundings, the dichotomy of his psyche renders him unable to face his demons alone. He sets off on a visceral collision course of paranoia, sex, delirium tremens, misery and madness. His desperation culminates in an intense, hallucinatory breakdown, but the duality of his na
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Michael Polish
Production: Ketchup Entertainment
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
81 min

In the early 1950s, the nation

recognized in its midst

a social movement

called the Beat Generation.

A novel titled "On the Road"

became a best seller,

and its author, Jack Kerouac,

became a celebrity,

partly because he'd written a

powerful and successful book,

but partly because

he, uh, seemed to be

the embodiment

of this new generation.

So here he is, Jack Kerouac.

3,000 miles from Long Island.

It's the first trip I've taken

away from my mother's house

since the publication

of "Road" three years ago.

All over America,

high school and college kids

thinking Jack Kerouac

is 26 years old

and on the road

all the time hitchhiking,

while there I am almost 40

years old, bored and jaded.

The book that made me famous

and, in fact, so much so,

I've been driven mad

for three years

by endless telegrams,

phone calls, requests,

mail, visitors,

reporters, snoopers.

I was surrounded

and outnumbered...

and had to get away

to solitude again or die.

So Lawrence Ferlinghetti

wrote and said,

"Come to my cabin in Big Sur.

No one'll know. "

Although Lawrence and I

exchanged huge letters

outlining how I would sneak in

quietly into the West Coast,

I'd ruined my secret return to San

Francisco by getting silly drunk

and marching forth into North

Beach to see everybody.

Everyone recognized me.

I'm telling you.

Hey, everybody,

the bloody king of the

beatniks is back in town.

Two days of that,

including Sunday,

the day Lawrence Ferlinghetti

is supposed to pick me up

at my secret skid row hotel

and drive me to Big Sur woods.

One fast move,

or I'm gone.

You say I'm alone,

and the cabin is suddenly home

only because you made one meal

and washed

your first meal dishes.

Then nightfall.

The flies retreat

like polite

Emily Dickenson flies,

and when it's dark, they're

all asleep in the trees.

Maybe the bees got

a message to come and see me,

all 2,000 of 'em,

which seems to happen like

a big party once a week.

No booze, no drugs, no binges,

no bouts with beatniks

and drunks

and junkies and everybody.


No better.

What I do now next?

Chop wood?

Long nights simply thinking

about the usefulness

of that little wire scour,

those little

yellow copper things

you buy in supermarkets

for 10 cents,

all to me

infinitely more interesting

than the stupid and senseless

"Steppenwolf" novel

in the shack,

which I read with a shrug,

this old fart reflecting

on conformity of today,

and all the while, he thought

he was a big Nietzsche.

Because on the fourth day,

I began to get bored

and noted it in my diary

with amazement,

"Already bored?"

Even though the handsome

words of Emerson

would shake me out of that,

where he says in one of those

little red leather books

and is relieved and gay

when he has put

his heart into his work

and done his best.

Yet I went crazy

inside three weeks.

In me and in everyone,

I felt completely nude of all

poor protective devices,

like thoughts about life

or meditations under trees

and the ultimate

and all that sh*t.

In fact, the other pitiful

devices of making supper

or saying, "What I do

now next? Chop wood?"

I see myself as just doomed,

an awful realization that I have

been fooling myself all my life

thinking there was a next thing

to do to keep the show going,

and actually

I'm just a sick clown,

not even really

any kind of common sense,

animate effort to ease the soul

in this horrible, sinister

condition of mortal hopelessness.

I hate to write.

All my tricks laid bare,

even the realization

that they're laid bare itself

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Michael Polish

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Big Sur" STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 30 Nov. 2022. <>.

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