‘Big Joy’ Captures Quirky, Whimsical Life of Poet, Filmmaker James Broughton

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By Brian Darling

“Do your own thing.”  “When in doubt, twirl.”  “Follow your weird.”

These are some of the eloquent, quirky, and whimsical quotes of poet and poetic filmmaker James Broughton.  Until viewing this beautifully crafted documentary, I had little knowledge of poetry, or how poetry could be expressed through film (available now on demand or DVD, at

Stunning visuals meet some beautifully crafted words on a relaxed and meandering stroll through the life of a man who documented his life through his poetry, and we are the beneficiaries of some amazing perspective and insight.

I loved the integration of colleagues and friends (including Armistead Maupin, Anna Halprin, Neeli Cherkovski), family, and Mr. Broughton himself mapping out his life, his adventures, his struggles, his liberation, and his legacy.

I found myself enthralled and interested, waiting to see what was around the next corner.  Growing up gay in the ’40s and ’50s was not “spoken about” publicly, yet through his poetry and films, we see universal feelings and emotions that transcend time.  I felt energized, silly, and satisfied upon the arrival of the credits, having gained newfound confidence that I could do anything I wanted to do.

His life was upbeat, and lived to the fullest, and the film holds the laughter, hidden titillation, forbidden fantasy for all to see. I felt sheer awe, with a little “yea, I get it” thrown in.

“Big Joy” reveals a lot about the society in San Francisco, and touches on filmmaking in Europe, love, lust, self expression, and deep thought, all put together in a way that I had never seen, but absolutely want to see more.

When the story entered the ’70s, I was taken back to my own youth, growing up as a gay boy, not fitting in, and comparing my thoughts as a child of that era to his thoughts, of a man in his 60s.  At that point we were connected. I knew what he was saying.  I was connected.  I was not alone.  Somebody “got it”–and there were others out there who got it too!

“Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton” left me with a lovely sense of peace and satisfaction. I am smiling, laughing, reflecting, and thinking … there really is “Ecstasy for Everybody!”

The film is available On Demand, on iTunes and Netflix. GO West Hollywood GO WEHO LGBT Entertainment News and Industry

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