A film celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday

2019 marks the 200th birthday of a great American poet and one of Long Island’s most beloved native sons, Walt Whitman. To celebrate the occasion, the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington is partnering with the Walt Whitman Birthplace to present a film about Whitman, “Beautiful Dreamers” (Canada, 1992; 105 Mins.; English | Dir. John Kent Harrison).

The free screening will take place at the Cinema Arts Centre on Sunday, March 24 at 11 a.m. Following the screening, there will be a discussion with Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

Rip Torn stars as Whitman in this portrait of the legendary poet’s support of Canadian doctor Maurice Bucke, who scandalized the medical establishment by treating his developmentally challenged patients as human beings.

“Beautiful Dreamers tells the story of the friendship between Whitman and Bucke, a superintendent of the asylum in London, Ontario. Whitman’s own brother was mentally disabled, and he admired Bucke’s progressive ideas about the care of the mentally ill.

With Whitman’s help, Bucke replaced the asylum’s coercive methods of care with “moral treatments,” such as exercise, music and conversation, much to the chagrin of the mainstream medical establishment. 

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association is Walt Whitman’s voice today, celebrating the poet’s vision of democracy, diversity, and creativity. Their programs and exhibits educate the public on Whitman’s life and times, explore his contribution to our nation’s rich cultural heritage, and inspire young poets and writers.

To register for this free screening, go to www.cinemaartscentre.org.

About the author

The Island Now

Share this Article