Magic Trip

Posted January 21, 2011 in
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Magic Trip
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Allison Ellwood, Alex Gibney

In 1964 author Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters set out on a LSD fueled road trip across the United States in a brightly colored converted school bus driven by none-other than Jack Kerouac’s speed freak traveling companion, Neal Cassidy. Their destination: New York City’s World’s Fair. Before they embarked on the journey they decided they would film the trip, rigging the bus with cameras and audio equipment and purchased a pile of 16mm color film to document their journey. The original intention was to release the footage—but Kesey was never able to edit it quite to his liking. The audio didn’t match with the film and so eventually the footage was simply boxed up and put in storage. Over 40 years after the material was originally shot and the audio recorded it was unearthed and restored by Ellwood and Gibney to create "Magic Trip". The film features awesome archival footage of the Merry Pranksters on their journey across the United States and their experimentation with LSD. The archival footage is spliced in with illustrations that make viewers feel … well … like they are on acid. As the film progresses it becomes clear that it was never really about the destination, but more about the trip along the way. Magic Trip documents a unique time in counter cultural history and presents it in a way that doesn’t feel pretentious or overblown. 

"Magic Trip" co-director Alex Gibney "Magic Trip" co-director Alison Ellwood