Magic Trip DVD

Alex Gibney, Alison Ellwood, 2011


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Film Details

Directed by Alex Gibney, Alison Ellwood

Produced in 2011

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - American film

MovieMail's Review

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.

Julian Upton on 8th December 2011
Author of 172 reviews

Film Description

Magic Trip (Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place) is a freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' fabled road trip across America in the legendary Magic Bus.

In 1964, Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by 'The Merry Band of Pranksters' - a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s 'On the Road', and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. Gibney and Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: Studio Canal

Length: 107 mins

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 28th November 2011

Cat No: OPTD2027

DVD Extras

  • Commentary with Directors Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood
  • Alex Gibney Interview
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Clip of Ken Kesey Being Administered LSD
  • Tempo Stimulants (1967) – A Rare ABC Feature on LSD
  • TV Spots & Promo
  • Trailer

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