Bukowski: Born Into This

Ratings: 8.67/10 from 9 users.


Bukowski: Born Into ThisDirector John Dullaghan's biographical documentary about infamous poet Charles Bukowski, Bukowski: Born Into This, is as much a touching portrait of the author as it is an exposé of his sordid lifestyle.

Interspersed between ample vintage footage of Bukowski's poetry readings are interviews with the poet's fans including such legendary figures such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Joyce Fante (wife of John), Bono, and Harry Dean Stanton.

Filmed in grainy black and white by Bukowski's friend, Taylor Hackford, due to lack of funding, the old films edited into this movie paint Bukowski's life of boozing and brawling romantically, securing Bukowski's legendary status.

Born Into This relies on interviews with Bukowski for biographical information instead of cheesy voiceovers, bringing the viewer even closer to the author.

For example, in one amazing sequence, Bukowski rides the viewer around in the backseat of his car, telling us through his rear-view mirror of his stint as a post office worker which inspired the novel, Post Office.

Scenes splicing interviews with Bukowski's ex-wife, Linda Lee, and R. Crumb's comic strip panels portraying Bukowski as a sex-crazed maniac, set the tone for bawdier parts of the film.

Occasionally the film displays lines of Bukowski's poetry on the screen, as reminders that he was not only a raging alcoholic with a fierce sense of humor but also a talented and beloved writer.

With so much hilariously shocking footage of "Hank," Bukowski: Born Into This presents Bukowski as a troubled but classic genius.

More great documentaries

37 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dr. Dunkleosteus

    This doc is on Netflix! Nice find, V. Everyone should appreciate that they're able to watch this one for free, if for no other reason.

    I really enjoy Charles Bukowski. I haven't watched this doc yet, I was trying to finish his book "Run With the Hunted" first, but now I don't think I can avoid it any longer.

    A great writer and a great poet... also a great bull****er.


  2. Jacob Woods

    That was nice to be exposed to. Great inspiration for me and my own endeavors.

  3. Tigerspaw

    Do Not miss this one. A must see on anyone's list.

  4. Anthony

    4.21 just blew me away, that expresses perfectly the conformity of society and the evil that such behaviour allows to transpire. so succinct.

  5. Anthony

    ^ part 6/12

  6. Steve

    I rented Capote and this one at the same time a while back. Capote was very good, but Bukowski blew me away. Here is a writer that truly lived what he wrote.

  7. Mad

    This was a great man mainly because he told it like it is, Bukowski reminded me much of my drunken uncle. His poem in part 6 was the solid truth "Beware the average man average woman, beware their love, their love is average, seeks average, but there is genius in their hatred, there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you, to kill ANYBODY."

  8. Imightberiding

    Fantastic! Time very well spent. Thank you Vlatko for this one.

  9. capricious

    This was one seriously screwed up dude. It was definitely an interesting documentary and there aren't many people who could live such a life and manage to be successful and relatively famous. In that regard, I gotta give him props. He did tell it like it "is", but only how it is in his seriously twisted mind. "Love is a dog from hell." Having wicked thoughts like that is just seriously unhealthy, in my humble opinion.

  10. Anthony


    yes, brilliant doc I have always held rather Spartan views on literature/poetry, but they have been thoroughly dispelled by this film. Big thanks to V for putting another superb doc up. You have certainly established a superb fountain of visual knowledge on this site and long may it continue.


    I'm afraid I have to disagree with your opinion,

    “Love is a dog from hell.” - what a line!

    The only thing I would add to that, is the word mad, I'll let you guess where it goes.

  11. roland gopel

    now there was a whole-hearted human being - warts and all!!!
    he's not the only one who had/has a problem with "authority"
    i could say so much more......

  12. Agent Cooper

    Loved this. Bukowski is a great writer, his style might be rough but he has things to say. His writing is filled whit sorrow, anger and honesty; and at the same time he manages to criticize the modern lifestyle and society.

  13. Kiteboarderjoe

    Bukowski recommended reading John Fante. The Bandini Quartet is Fante's most popular work.

  14. Waldo

    I didn't care for this one, only watched the first twenty minutes or so. This guy seems grouchy and obsene to me. He writes good stuff, but I would hate to be caught in an elevator with him. Spending life drunk and angry at everyone seems to be his norm. I guess he was a shock jock before being a shock jock was cool. It's surprising to me that so many people seem to relate with him, the comments here are on the balance positive toward him. Maybe I am just in the wrong mood for this kind of verbal assault this morning. I'll try and watch it again later.

  15. francois

    Thank you, the doc is so so, but the man!

  16. james

    Very touching doc.Directed with respect and empathy as we might care for a wounded beast.I enjoy Bukowski.A social cripple expressing his humaness and passion only through writing.Vulgar,obscene,desperate,sexual,sublime ravings.The Beethoven piano adagio captures the pathos and passion that was this man's life.

  17. 420 Vision

    two things,..

    1 - I hope this guy is dead

    2 - I hope this guy did not pass on his genes

  18. roland gopel

    making such disrespectful comments when you have quite obviously not watched it all is really quite insulting and offensive. and as a matter of fact your own comments are far more to your own detriment than anybody else!!

  19. Albert

    @420 vision:
    You're making a fool of yourself, boy..

  20. 420 Vision

    @Roland Gopel I did watch the doco and I found this guys ideology to be even worse than mine,.. and this makes me so jealous.

    @Albert I'm an XX not an XY, boy...

  21. Anthony

    @ Albert & roland

    Always remember, don't feed the trolls!

  22. 420 Vision

    @anthony ,... but we're hungry and we provide your type with so much entertainment, plus our attitudes make you feel superiour, and we want you to feel superiour otherwise we cannot be Trolls. Remember without us your confidence is knot.

  23. james

    well folks,as in life,Bukowski and his poetry are not for the weak.He writes from a dark place for those who have been there too." 'Twas caviar to the general.."Hamlet said,tho Bukowski is more like Swine before Pearls...heh heh

  24. cezy

    to all of you who do not like him or his books: read more! the guy is probably the best american writer of the last century.

  25. PeriltotheSword

    You think she is aware of her teenage metal-head goatee?

  26. Kari

    I still recall the first time I saw this documentary at metro. I had no idea what it was really about until I watched it.(NOT reccommended as a first date movie)This film is largely based on toilet humour, with a complete disreguard for political correctness. But this gritty film shocked and amused me so with it's candid, raw human nature, that I have not forgotten it. It is DEFINITELY a must see documentary.(even if you don't like poetry)
    Bukowski, the old lion, is unappologetically crass with a wicked sense of humour. And if you don't find him amusing, you'll definitely get a kick out of some of the other colourful characters in the film, like the bearded lady.

  27. CHarles

    This is AMAZING!!! The only bad part is when that painter comes in and tells us about how he wants to bang some girl then reads a Bukowski poem and kinded tosses her out. What kinda guy is that?

  28. Little Tommy Cruise

    I really enjoyed learning about this man. I'd seen the movie Barfly years ago, but never really knew the inspiration behind it until now. Thanks for sharing.

  29. l

    very good, i enjoyed this a lot!

  30. Barry Ogilvie

    hats off raise a glass to harvey.loved this.set your bluebird free.love to you charles ,barry and the maisie

  31. Andre E Bordeleau

    as always he was my dirty inspiration, as always he made me cry, he will be with me always. thanks for sharing your malaise Hank,you can rest peaceful now.

  32. dmxi

    this guy helped me through my adolescence !love him to bits next to burroughs,ballard & hesse !

  33. Laura Barr

    The full documentary is on youtube !!!!!!!

  34. kenriccio

    The genius of henry comes from the deepest of emotions of pain , without this it is impossible to write or even explain any feeling or thought of such
    pain , its like having the worst tooth ach in the world and trying to explain it
    can not be done or felt or understood until you yourself have that very tooth ach ...with all this bull**** being said I will say ....the curse of genius must have been written up in a contract by the devil himself...Ken Riccio poems (c)

  35. kenriccio

    The curse of genius must have been written up in a contract by the very devil himself ..original poems

  36. Al Green

    Bukowski had that rare talent of being both disgusting and beautiful at the same time. Tragic and poignant. His lines are so simple and direct, anyone can understand and feel them. This documentary allows it all through to the viewer in the most direct way possible.

  37. Simon Bar Sinister

    The minute I saw Sean Penn killed my interest in watching this.

Leave a comment / review: