Article by Jerry Cimino (founder of The Beat Museum):
After the death of his father, aspiring writer Sal Paradise is staring at the blank page in his typewriter wondering what path his life will be taking. A millisecond later a green automobile comes screeching sideways to a stop and Sal finds his muse as Dean Moriarty appears on the scene. Sal's life will never be the same as Dean takes us all on a ride to places we never knew existed.
The movie trailer for Walter Salles' film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's seminal novel On The Road has just been released. It portends an extremely satisfying movie experience that literary fans have been anxiously awaiting for over 30 years.
Sal Paradise, of course, is Jack Kerouac, and Dean Moriarty is Neal Cassady, Kerouac's iconic hero of the American night.
Controversy has raged for decades among Beat Generation fans as to whether this movie should even have been attempted. I can understand both sides of the argument. On The Road is a very personal novel for many, many people. At the Beat Museum, located in San Francisco, we see people from every corner of the world walk through our doors daily who are on their own personal journey kick-started by their reading of Kerouac's books. On The Road holds a very special place in the hearts of many of these people and they don't want their vision of Kerouac's book (and their own personal journeys) messed with.
The flipside of that argument, of course, is that On The Road must be made into a film. Jack Kerouac himself sent a letter to Marlon Brando back in 1959 imploring Brando to make the film. Kerouac understood that a novel is not a movie and he even told Brando he was willing to write the screenplay himself incorporating whatever accommodations and changes needed for the story of the book to work as a film.