Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World

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The great American poet charms and regales us in this classic documentary completed just prior to his death at age 88.

Year: 1963
Country: USA
Running time: 52 mins

Producer/Screenplay: Robert Hughes
Photography: Terence Macartney-Filgate
Editor: Charlotte Zwerin
Music: Charles Gross
B&W/Blu-ray

With: Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy, Randall Jarrell, G. Armour Craig, Louis Untermeyer, Jason Billings, Stafford Dragon, Mrs Theodore Morrison, F.B. Adams Jr

Recently restored, Shirley Clarke’s Oscar-winning portrait of poet Robert Frost lives on as a precious, gleaming artefact of the JFK era. As a crowd of young women beam with delight, Camelot’s crafty old laureate beguiles them with poetry and tales of sterling individualism in conversation with nature. In a tutorial with grave, suited young men, he vows that American power is a benign force in the world. 

“The poet was in his late eighties when Shirley Clarke directed this patient, revelatory portrait of him in his calm, oratorical radiance. Extended sequences of Frost’s public appearances give rise to sublimely comical asides bearing hard-won wisdom; more intimate talks elicit nuanced yet harshly frank remarks on political issues… 

The recitations of poetry are magnificent; Frost’s gruff, lainspoken declamation gives the light-footed expression of grave and cosmic thoughts an enduring resonance, and his self-apostrophizing commentaries offer sketches of an autobiography that is both surprising and moving.” — Richard Brody, New Yorker