Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady in MAGIC TRIP, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo © Allen Ginsberg, CORBIS.
right: Ken Kesey in MAGIC TRIP. Photo © Ted Streshinsky, CORBIS. right: The Bus in MAGIC TRIP. Photo © Ted Streshinsky, CORBIS.
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, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and 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. Magic Trip opens this month.