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Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg’s 10 Favorite Films, an Exquisite Banquet


A modest pleasure seeker: the contradictory position showed by Allen Ginsberg in the selection of his 10 favorite films.

In Faena Aleph we have reviewed several lists of the favorite films of outstanding personalities: Susan Sontag, Luis Buñuel, Akira Kurosawa, among others. Little by little we have formed a kind of mosaic in which each of the lines drawn follows its own evolution, with some unexpected points of encounter and destinations that may coincide or separate. This, in some ways, is due to the similarities and differences in the temperament of each one, the intellectual closeness or distance, or the differences in mood, that may exist, for example, between someone like Federico Fellini and Andrei Tarkovsky.

On this occasion we return to the blog The Allen Ginsberg Project and the beat generation writer’s top 10 films. As we know, Ginsberg had a particularly enriched and demanding view of the world and which he knew how to stimulate with diverse elements, some of the them spiritual (such as Buddhism) and others purely literary, in addition to other cultural expressions, such as cinema.

Ginsberg’s selection was obtained both anecdotally and in a circumstantial way. From the 1980s until his death, the American poet lived in a modest apartment in New York’s East Village. A man opened Kim’s Videos in the neighborhood, and which rented movies, and perhaps more than that, as he was a true curator of his own catalog, carefully organizing his films by director, genre and other classifications, in part due to the kind of titles he offered and due to the kind of people who frequented the store, among whom were some of the intellectual “luminaries.” As a result of that, Kim one day had the idea of asking his clients what were their 10 favorite films. Ginsberg responded with the following list:

Le sang d’un poète, Jean Cocteau (1930)

Orphée, Jean Cocteau (1950)

Pépé le Moko, Julien Duvivier (1937)

Les enfants du paradis, Marcel Carné (1945)

The Flower Thief, Ron Rice (1960)

The Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein (1925)

Le quai des brumes, Marcel Carné (1938)

La grande illusion, Jean Renoir (1937)

Pull My Daisy, Robert Frank & Alfred Leslie (1959)

Heaven and Earth Magic, Harry Everett Smith (1957)

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