A conversation with the makers of a new documentary about the seminal bus voyage
Joe Mabel / Wikicommons
Until now, Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test has been the definitive depiction of the famous school bus trip across America taken by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in 1964.
But there’s a worthy companion piece to Wolfe’s seminal work of new journalism: Magic Trip, a new documentary entirely comprised of little-seen contemporaneous 16mm footage and audio recordings by Kesey and the Pranksters.
Meticulously restored and put together by filmmakers Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney, without relying on the crutch of perspective from contemporary talking heads, the film presents the LSD-loving pioneers who spawned ’60s counterculture in their own words and images. In an email exchange, Elliwood and Gibney, an occasional contributor to The Atlantic, offer their thoughts on the project.
What inspired you to take on the daunting challenge of making this film?
Alison Ellwood: We first heard about the footage when we read an article by Robert Stone in The New Yorker. Once we saw the footage, it was a no brainer. No one had ever seen most of this material. Something about it spoke to me — pulled me into it.