Reflections of the Third Eye
3 April 2013
Timothy Leary's Last Trip (1997)
Topic: T

The first half of this 55-minute documentary is a recap of the early/mid-1960s LSD scene, when both Timothy Leary & Ken Kesey rose to prominence. There is lots of Merry Prankster '60s archive footage, some of which I didn't immediately recognize, and which may be unique to this feature. There's also some interesting old Leary footage, the bulk of it from the circa 1974 interview also seen in Timothy Leary's Dead. Some minor errors occur in the chronology and presentation of events, the most amusing (possibly a Prank?) assigning Wavy Gravy's name to a photo of Tiny Tim!

The second half of the movie concerns Leary's last 'trip', which turns out to be two trips -- one to a Hog Farm commune get-together in 1995, with some historically important footage of Kesey and Leary hanging out together. Contemporary interviews include original Pranksters George Walker and Wavy Gravy (looking great, like an old Polynesian tribe chief), and Kesey & Leary. Interspersed throughout is an interview with Leary from a studio (or his home), which I think is unique to this movie. There's some on-stage footage with Grateful Dead type music and Pranksters in costumes, and Leary giving the event his benediction.

Leary's 'second last trip' is a meeting on Internet between himself and Kesey, shortly before he died. It's pretty amusing to see the funky connection and very old-skool Netscape browsers this many years later. Not much of importance is said, it's mainly an exchange of greetings done in accordance with a technology shift that Leary, always the futurist, understood and embraced.

The director O B Babbs (Merry Prankster legend Ken Babbs' son) appears as a narrator here and there, and does a good job; and his handsome male-model looks are no drawback. There's a certain student film feel to this, but those familiar with what's been coming out of the revived Prankster nexus in Oregon will recognize and enjoy the home-made charm. Sentimentality is present, and may have been given a boost by the passing away of Jerry Garcia around this time, but considering who we are dealing with, there's certainly room for, and a need for, documentation.

Like Timothy Leary's Dead this movie has some specific, minor flaws, but combining these two fan-oriented DVD features you get a terrific view of Leary, the modern (post-1960) history of LSD, and a substantial dose of the equally important Merry Pranksters. A certain interest in the subject and personages is required, which I have no lack of. For those demanding a more refined cinematic coverage of some of the same topics, the more recent Magic Trip documentary should be the first stop. 7/10

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 12:26 AM MEST
Updated: 10 August 2013 12:36 AM MEST

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