25 August 2011

Magic Trip

Written & Directed by: Ken Kesey & Alison Ellwood
Full credits at IMDb

Early on in Magic Trip, an assembled-footage documentary about the Merry Pranksters' famous ride, ringmaster Ken Kesey acknowledges that his now-legendary trip—whose historical significance has perhaps been overstated—couldn't be a book. It's an experience, he says, not literature. (Perhaps a knock to Tom Wolfe, who goes conspicuously unmentioned?) But Gibney and Ellwood's film isn't an experience—it crams a psychedelic, transcendental happening into the confines of narrative-documentary cliche, translating the lyrical into the prosaic. It's literature. (The musical cues, for example, are painfully literal, including gospel over a digression on the civil rights movement and "Got My Mojo Workin'" over a segment about romantic entanglements.)

An animated sequence, set to a recording of Kesey narrating one of his earliest acid trips as it's happening, captures the dynamism of hallucinogenic drugs. Otherwise, the movie is mostly flat 16mm footage, shot by Kesey and friends and seen publicly here for the first time, supplemented by 35mm stills; together, these two media still add up to a incomplete, limiting, and monotonous visual record. In Gibney and Ellwood's moviola, the footage feels like little more than the home movies they are, despite the hippie freaks who star in them or the interviewed participants who make sense of them—valuable to the historian perhaps, but not the general audience. Grade: C

Watch the trailer:

1 comment:

free movies said...

I haven't seen the movie Magic Trip yet. I watched the trailer of the movie on this post. I really like it. It seems an interesting and funny movie. I am looking forward to watch this movie.I really like your writing style.Thanks for the review.