On the Road is Jack Kerouac’s story. At least the original scroll is. Written under duress in a three week period on one sheet of continuous paper, On the Road soon met the publishing companies and lawyers who felt certain words and names were too much for the public to handle. Walter Salles, the billionaire director who brought the Motorcycle Diaries to the big screen, has taken the challenge from Francis Ford Coppola (who has owned the rights for decades) to transfer Kerouac back to the mainstream. Although under scrutiny from devoted fans, the film has inspired people to travel to San Francisco. Not only did it take Kerouac seven years of traveling back and forth around the country to compile the stories that became On the Road, it also took another couple years for the book to hit the shelf. Publishing companies today would likely behave the same. Fortunately today, independent writers have much more flexibility. Perhaps if Kerouac had written his seminal work today, he too would have benefited from this freedom to write what he wanted to write.
The film comes out in December, but already the early releases in Europe have motivated many to travel west. The goal, according to Salles, is to get as many new people to read Kerouac as possible. Like any great product that goes commercial and pop, it will likely inspire haters and rambunctious lovers. If the director’s philosophy holds steady, people will read and think and care less for the financial implication of life and more for life itself.
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.” #OTR