William Carlos Williams
Director: Richard P. Rogers
Screenwriters: Jill Janows
- 1987 Sundance Film Festival
A marvelously imaginative film that is not so much a traditional portrait of the poet as an evocation of the man’s life and work. Filmmaker Richard Rogers gets to the heart of William Carlos William’s poetry: its connection to his life as a pediatrician, its profound sensuality, and its American “voice” (concrete, palpable, centered on everyday life). Poet Allen Ginsberg, scholars Hugh Kenner and Marjorie Perloff and author Robert Coles interject brief, pointed commentaries on Williams’ work.
What makes this film so special is its insistence upon using the poet’s own words as the heart of the matter. Williams shunned the abstract and the non-essential. Rogers responds by making concrete his poetry through innovative animation (sequences by Maureen Selwood and George Griffin) and dramatic recreations of the pediatrician/poet’s life. The film finds its center in William’s preoccupation with birth and despair, allowing the poet’s most self-reflexive words to tell the story of his life and art.