Kill Your Darlings (2013)

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As per the custom of biographical films, historical accuracy is secondary to stylistic elements and drama. If you want historical accuracy, go read a textbook, right? But it’s almost impossible to get historical accuracy anywhere. Textbook authors have their own bias in interpreting certain events. Added to that are biased sources from which they draw their conclusions.

Similarly, in watching a biographical film, viewers witness a distorted version of a certain series of past events told through the biased view of the writer/ director/ research team/ research materials. In Kill Your Darlings, the film was largely told through the point of view of the poet Allen Ginsberg. Upon this realization, I became deeply bothered. Supposing that the Lucien Carr portrayed onscreen was accurate to historical accounts (it’s not), he was still portrayed as he was seen through the eyes of his friend Allen Ginsberg, who had an agenda of serving his own ego.

So comes the question: Who was the real Lucien Carr? The character is arbitrary; this question can be asked for every other historical persona featured in biographical films or autobiographies written by a third person. If he left no written accounts of his thoughts; if he were illiterate or inarticulate, the essence of his being would be lost long after he is dead. Nobody would know who he really was, but assumed they could guess through the written accounts of influential friends who knew him personally. Even then I cannot emphasize enough that these accounts are biased: assumptions were made about why he said what he said, or why he thought what he thought, even assumptions of what he thought about. It’s only natural to make a string of such assumptions in order to make sense of a person. But the person you project and the person you are, are inherently different. Effectively, if the friend were influential enough, and historical accounts become dependent on that source, the entire person could be rewritten. She/he would be remembered falsely.

The ease with which the self can be erased and rewritten to suit an agenda is something I find highly disturbing. It’s something I’ve experienced on a much smaller scale in my regular life: the subtle ways in which people put words into your mouth or assume they know what you want/ need and then act on those assumptions. It’s so subtle I don’t notice it at first, but when I do, it’s slightly frustrating, annoying, and ultimately worrisome. It calls on the need to speak out, but most importantly leave trails of my thoughts, so that I am writing for myself.

You’ll probably see me writing a lot more now.

 

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