Wednesday, July 4, 2012
The early sixties was a time of transformation, exploration, protest, and weirdness, much of which can be summed up in the crazy bus trip orchestrated by celebrated author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and his friends, known as the Merry Pranksters, on their excursion from California to Florida and then up the east coast to New York (where they visited the World's Fair) and then back to the west coast (via Canada). The trip is captured in a new documentary, Magic Trip, by Alex Gibney and Alsion Ellwood. The documentarians took original clips from the 30-hour film made by Pranksters and squared the audio with the film, and then added interviews, photographs, other footage, as well as provided commentary, to produce an insightful and engaging movie about this trip. Wonderful. As for the drugs, I think I would have been stoned too knowing Neil Cassidy was driving! Cassidy seemed like a gyroscope that spewed nonstop chatter, often nearly intelligable. The filmmakers did a great job of explaining the trip, fleshing out the diverse characters and how they got their nicknames, and presenting some of the dynamics of the relationships. Some really good scenes (my Deadhead friends will love some early footage of their heros). It probably will be a nostalgiac ride for those who lived through the sixties, a record and history for later generations, and an entertaining look at the center of a cultural phenomena.