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Magic Trip [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1/1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: StudioCanal
  • Run Time: 107 Mins.
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 28, 2011
  • RRP:

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005GJTN9Y[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Ken Kesey gave the world the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest after his experiences in the psychiatric ward as a CIA guinea pig testing LSD. Unbeknownst to the world at the time, the government was carrying out secret trials to find a drug that would make captives easier to interrogate – – they were searching for a truth serum. They also unwittingly unleashed on the world a major component in the 1960s counterculture revolution of which Kesey would play a starring role.

Upon the publication of his second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, Kesey was needed in New York, where the World’s Fair just happened to be taking place. So Ken up and decided to gather together group of friends and, just like one of his literary influences Jack Kerouac, hit the open road. They would drive across the country in a multi-colored, painted school bus on an LSD-fueled trip, expand their minds, see the open road, see the country, and find themselves while heading to the World’s Fair. Coincidentally, along for the ride, would be Neal Cassady, best known for being portrayed as Dean Moriarty in On the Road. The fast-talking, speed-taking elder statesman of the crowd would become the de facto driver and leader on this tour from west to east into the vast unknown. Their original group would become known as the “Merry Pranksters”.

Kesey also got the idea to film the trip on 16mm cameras and create a film about the journey. There’s hours of footage that was edited and re-edited over the years, but as no one involved was a professional filmmakers or cameraman, nothing was ever really able to come of it, except one major culture-influencing thing. The trip to the east turned out to be a bust. The World’s Fair, the last ever, was basically over before it started.  A scheduled meeting with Norman Mailer never took place – it seems the man telling people to tune in and turn on wanted nothing to do with this rag-tag group of west coast “pranksters.” So, upon arriving back  home in La Honda, Kesey began screening the film in its entirety, nearly 30 hours of footage. There was a lot of interest amongst the growing “counterculture” movement. People would come by, drop some acid, smoke some weed, pass out, and the film would just play. Eventually the screening started moving around to different houses, until finally a venue was found, and invitations went out – The Acid Test was born with the house band The Grateful Dead playing the gigs. Say hello to the psychedelic era and the dawning of the hippie movement.

Magic Trip finally seeks to bring the footage from that eventful journey together in a cohesive way, with some of the original dialogue used, but mostly some scripted dialogue and narration in its place (the original audio being so poorly recorded and hopelessly out of synch). It play more like interesting home movies than a straightforward documentary and one really feels like one is back there in 1964 with this madcap group of explorers and their journey to enlightenment.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

What can you say, really, about a documentary that is sourced from relatively old and unkempt 16mm archival film? It looks as good as it can, under the circumstances, I supposed, but this AVC/MPEG-4 transfer isn’t going to set any new standards for reference material any time soon.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There are DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes provided. The 5.1 mix add a mild bit of ambience to the sound in the surround channels, but in all there isn’t much difference between the two. Both get the job done rather well for the material at hand, really, presenting clean dialogue and narration – that is where the dialogue is clean and not the fairly scratchy original audio recordings from 1964.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

With more footage, commentary by the filmmakers and the way-out audio recording of Kesey dropping acid, these extras are certainly in the “out there” category, as well as abundant, but not necessarily mandatory.

The supplements:

  • Commentary with directors Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood
  • Audio Clip of Ken Kesey Being Administered LSD (Dolby Digital 2.0; 00:50:53)
  • Interview With Director Alex Gibney (1.78:1; PAL; 00:37:25)
  • Deleted Scenes:
    • La Honda Swing
    • Moonlight Sinatra
    • Pensacola-Toodly Doodly
    • Parachute
    • Bug Attach to Canada
    • The Fool
    • Mexico
    • Rubiaco
    • Las Vegas to Hoover Dam
    • Trip Back
    • Vietnam Day
  • Tempo = Stimulants (1.33:1; PAL; 00:25:07) – From the ABC Tempo Series, a predecessor to The South Bank Show.
  • VOD Promo
  • TV Spots

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

An often enlightening look into the 1960s, Magic Trip is a wild ride that uncovers the good, the bad, and the mundane about the counterculture revolution. The Blu-ray isn;t reference high definition material, but it’s still worth at least renting.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005GJTN9Y[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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