Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me. The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose - Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
American Road explores the artistic and historical mystique of the road – especially of veering off the beaten track - in American lore: Westward expansion, Dust Bowl treks, freight train hobos, post-war suburbanization and the Beat critique of it, hitchhikers, the upheavals of the 1960s and early 1970s, and the latest generation of backpackers at home and abroad clutching their Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. The American road - from John Ford movie iconography to rent-a-car sojourns - has inspired poetry, art, music, novels, theater and films.
The thematic touchstone is Walt Whitman's egalitarian ideal of the ‘open road.' Whitman clearly inspired Woody Guthrie's legendary hard-traveling in the 1930s, the purposeful meanderings of Jack Kerouac through the affluent but edgy early post-war years, and the adventures and misadventures of much of the 1960s generation and their successors. Whitman's open road, said D. H. Lawrence, was 'the bravest doctrine man ever proposed to himself.' Here is a deep exploration of that doctrine in action. American Road ultimately probes the meaning of what it is to be an American, not just a wayfarer.
'Highly recommended!' Derek Malcolm, London Evening Standard
'American Road is terrific!' Clancy Sigal, author and co-screenwriter of 'Frida'
'American Road is a beautiful piece of work.' Ed Asner
'A wonderful work of art. I've seen a lot of documentaries on the American experience and, in particular, the beats, but I've never seen one that compares.' John Long, author of 'Drugs and the Beats
'A delicious ride through America! These guys take us on a dream journey - with Walt and Jack and Woody - into the incredible landscape, into our souls. Abby Mendelson, Chatham University and author of 'End of the Road'
''American Road is evocative and thoughtful and passionate. I thoroughly enjoyed it.' John Nichols, novelist and screenwriter
''Fascinating.' Gyula Gazdag, artistic director, Sundance Institute
Cold Chicago Productions