James Franco stars as Allen Ginsberg in Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's biopic that blends traditional narrative storytelling with documentary-style footage and vivid animation to paint a compelling portrait of the famed Beat poet. For many historians, the counterculture was conceived the moment Ginsberg's landmark poem "Howl" was put on trial. On October 7, 1955, the charismatic young poet stunned audiences at San Francisco's Six Gallery with the first-ever public reading of "Howl." Two years later, Ginsberg was standing before fierce prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) and ultra-conservative judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban) to defend his most famous work against accusations of obscenity. In addition to offering a detailed reenactment of that historical trial, Howl also recounts the early life events that molded Ginsberg into one of the most vital and outspoken voices of his generation, and features an animated visualization of the poem created by former Ginsberg collaborator Eric Drooker, and a score by Carter Burwell. Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, and Alessandro Nivola co-star.