One needs to distinguish the tranquil farewell to a friend and a great poet from the cinematic/artistic virtues of this videorecorded chronicle of Ginsberg on his deathbed. Whilst the first part holds interest for obvious reasons the second half of the film turns into a deeply annoying feat with erratic camerawork and a rather formless crowd that does not really do justice to the 'departure' or to Buddhism itself.
Is the home video more honest and artistic than a standard (mainstream) documentary? I think so and I think Jonas Mekas does as well. Here he shows films the funeral of Allen Ginsberg and reveals that it is at these somber times that we celebrate life and people the most.
Without a coherent motivation for both shooting and editing, this video diary is nothing but a voyeuristic eye in the Buddhist wake of Allen Ginsberg. This macabre curio fails to reincarnate into something greater, remaining trapped as a recording for posterity's sake until the end of its running time.
I would never have allowed filming someone dear to me at a time like this. I believe it is, in a sense, even 'obscene', in strictly etymological terms. I honestly preferred the post-mortem memories of friends and the funeral rite, completely unfamiliar to me.
Things I'll not do (Nostalgias): "Nor go to literary Argentina, accompany Glass to Sao Paolo & live a month in a flat Rio's beaches and favella boys, Bahia's great Carnival Nor more daydream of Bali, too far Adelaide's festival to get new scent sticks No more sweet summers with lovers, teaching Blake at naropa, Not myself except in an urn of ashes"
March 30, 1997, A.M, Allen Ginsberg
Ich mochte es, wie zurückhaltendend, scheu und emphatisch der Blick der Kamera war - dass das Sterben in seinem unergründlichen Geheimnis und seiner Weisheit sichtbar wurde. Danke Jonas Mekas, nun selbst nicht mehr unter uns.
Two stars go for the commentary on the last conversation that Jonas had with Allen Ginsberg. As for the rest, it's a reoccurring theme in Jonas Mekas' work that can be summed up as "I was there - Jonas Mekas". At times it felt a bit like an urban version of The Blair Witch Project, but where nothing happens. Erratic camerawork and quite tasteless choice of scenes for an event like this one.