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Film Details

Directed by: Alex Gibney Alison Ellwood

Produced: 2011

Countries & Regions: United States

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Studio: Studio Canal

Length: 107 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 28 November 2011

Cat No: OPTD2027

Extras:
Languages(s): English
Interactive Menu

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Magic Trip

Cast: Ken Kesey , Jerry Garcia , Neal Cassady

DVD
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Stanley Tucci narrates this documentary account of counter-culture pioneer Ken Kesey’s 1960s trip across America in a psychedelically... Read More

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Stanley Tucci narrates this documentary account of counter-culture pioneer Ken Kesey’s 1960s trip across America in a psychedelically painted school bus. In 1964 Kesey, the author of ’One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and an advocate for the use of LSD since the time he volunteered to take part in a project studying the effects of the psychoactive drug, decided to travel across country to New York to fulfil a business engagement. Buying an old school bus they named ’Further’, Kesey and his group of friends, known as ’The Merry Pranksters’, embarked on a cross-country acid-fuelled road trip in an attempt to create art out of everyday life.

In 1964, freed from the conventional urban grind by mind-altering drugs and the success of his first two novels — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion — Ken Kesey and his devoted Merry Band of Pranksters embarked on the ultimate ‘trip’, a journey across America on an old school bus stocked with 16mm film equipment, acid, tape recorders and more acid. The result was 100 hours of tantalising footage, but no-one ever got around to synching the sound or editing it down to a version that was showable to anyone outside the Kesey camp’s (albeit large) circle of friends and acquaintances. That was until celebrated documentary makers Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood (Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson, My Trip to Al-Qaeda) stepped in, working with Kesey’s family and the UCLA film archives to reclaim the material and edit it all down into this fascinating narrative, which tells the story not just of Kesey’s kooky journey from California to the New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, but also of a buttoned-up nation’s seduction by a new youth rebellion, of the staid fifties’ transformation into the psychedelic sixties.

Just for its candid shots of the legendary characters that pop up on Kesey’s travels — Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Larry McMurtry and Neal Cassady (the inspiration for On the Road’s Dean Moriarty) — this is an invaluable slice of US cultural history, but Gibney and Ellwood’s expert blending of the (superbly restored) original footage with newly-shot scenes and witty, state-of-the-art digital graphics also makes for an exhilarating ride in its own right.

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