In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World's Fair. He was joined by "The Merry Band of Pranksters," a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac's "On the Road," and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and co-director Alison Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.
- Alison Ellwood, Alex Gibney
"Magic Trip" is the cinematic equivalent of a yellowed scrapbook whose pictures are accompanied by sketchy captions created after the fact.Stephen Holden, New York Times, 08.04.2011
Fans of the subject matter, especially students of the Beat era, will find this revisionist reconstruction indispensible; others will share the same tedium claimed by some of the principals on the bus.John Anderson, Variety, 09.16.2011
The backstory behind the film is as compelling as the events it depicts.Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, 08.04.2011
The first striking thing about the documentary is that nothing about it reads 1964.Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, 08.04.2011