Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)

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Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011) Poster

A freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' fabled road trip across America.


6.9/10
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  • Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)
  • Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)
  • Ken Kesey in Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)
  • Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)
  • Neal Cassady and Timothy Leary in Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)
  • Ken Kesey in Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)

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Cast & Crew

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Directors:

Alison Ellwood , Alex Gibney

Writers:

Alex Gibney (screenplay), Alex Gibney, Alison Ellwood (screenplay), Ken Kesey (words and recordings), Ken Kesey (based on the works of)

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17 October 2011 | JvH48
Disappointing documentary about the sixties and some unconventional people
This could have been a movie reminiscent of those often celebrated sixties. However, the people portrayed in this home movie avant la lettre, were far from average. Their ways of living and what we saw thereof was on a safe distance from our own memories of that time.

I can understand the attraction of the 100 hour film footage that was left behind. But condensing it into a feature film length, does not work. For starters, we got a super fast intro of characters, leaving unclear who was who, and what tied them together. Secondly, the purpose of the journey was left equally unclear (maybe there wasn't any). Thirdly, it kept us wondering about the vast number of practical aspects for such a journey, like money, groceries, repairs, petrol, and so on. Of course, all this only proves that I wouldn't have blended in with this company, being much too serious and too organized for such a journey to even think about.

Anyway, it offered a nice excuse to show TV and movie fragments of that time, and pictures of every-days lives and streets. Also, we saw repeated police checks for no reason, demonstrating that their overall appearance (painted bus, haircut, clothes, etc) was "different". A nice side effect was that we saw and heard VSOP music fragments of that time, working well to refresh our memories. Similarly, it showed us how progressive people dressed in the sixties. Could that be all there is to fill 107 minutes of film, and keep our attention span??

All in all, what we saw was kaleidoscopic, to say the least. On one hand, it was interesting for some­one who grew up in that time (like me) but nearly forgot all about it (I did). On the other hand, it did not go beyond the family album level with pictures from the past. Leaves us wondering how more than 100 hours of film footage and sound fragments could have survived the continuous chaos these people used to live in. Again, this question proves that it was not my kind of company. Maybe good for us that they existed, important as they may have been as a catalyst for cultural changes, if only to practically demonstrate how to detach yourself from the daily grind and drop all common conventions.

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