by Chad Campbell, senior producer
Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is back in theaters and back on our program today. He’s been here to discuss six previous projects with Bob, including the Oscar and Peabody Award winning Taxi to the Dark Side. Gibney’s latest film is called Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place. Kesey and his “Merry Band of Pranksters” were ahead of their time - about three years to be exact. In 1964, they piled into a wildly painted bus and drove across the country, from California to New York City, to see “The World of Tomorrow” at that year’s World’s Fair. On the bus, they were experimenting with LSD and free love - precursors to 1967’s Summer of Love and the hippie scene in San Francisco. Kesey and his group were too young to be beatniks and too old to be hippies but they did have the foresight to purchase high-quality cameras and equipment to document their cross-country trip and their many acid trips. The Pranksters worked on the film for decades, never satisfied with the result. Gibney and his co-director Alison Ellwood restored the footage and edited the remaining 30 or 40 hours, pairing it with narration culled from archival audio tapes recorded by Kesey and The Pranksters shortly after their trip. I hope you’ll agree that Gibney’s latest film is a trip well worth taking.