Studio: Studio Canal
Length: 107 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 28 November 2011
Cat No: OPTD2027
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Also available on Blu-ray
Stanley Tucci narrates this documentary account of counter-culture pioneer Ken Kesey’s 1960s trip across America in a psychedelically... Read More
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.