The Trip

  • Roger Corman /
  • USA /
  • 1967 /
  • 86 mins

Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper, Salli Sachse, Barboura Morris / Fiction / English

Corman drops a psychedelic bomb and everyone gets high.

 Please note this film contains strobing light effects.

Having captured the zeitgeist with The Wild Angels, Corman started work on his second 'youth' film for AIP. The Trip was intended as an exploration of the effects of LSD, and was based on a meticulously detailed script by Jack Nicholson. Initially, Corman felt ill-equipped to direct the piece, given that it detailed a lifechanging experience with which he was unfamiliar; so, in preparation for the shoot, he travelled to Big Sur and, under controlled conditions, took LSD. Corman has often fondly reminisced about this expedition, describing “floating in the sky” and “seeing through to the centre of the earth”. This brave, experimental approach is startlingly reflected in the finished product, where it crucially informs not only Corman’s bold, avant-garde direction of the piece, but also the hallucinatory visual and lighting effects – cleverly implemented by Allen Daviau, Bob Beck and Pete Gardiner – and the fashionable art direction by Leon Erickson. Featuring an excellent score by rock group The American Music Band (a pseudonym for Mike Bloomfield and The Electric Flag), The Trip focuses upon television advertisement director Paul Groves (Peter Fonda) who, having been divorced by his wife, decides to take LSD for the first time. With his friend John as chaperone, Paul procures the drug from dealer Max and embarks upon a psychedelic odyssey. John, played by Bruce Dern, was clearly styled on LSD guru Timothy Leary; Max is played by Dennis Hopper, who also tackled some second unit directing on the film. AIP, concerned over possible accusations that the film was simply a beginner’s guide to using LSD, forced the addition of a warning about the perils of drugs at the start, and a 'shattering mirror' effect – suggesting that Paul has lost his mind – at the conclusion. Unsurprisingly, Corman’s originally serene conclusion sounds far more interesting, with the film’s message left open to interpretation. With a man’s mind literally turning inside out on screen, Corman’s kaleidoscopic acid trip is an essential example of swinging 60s counter-culture on the big screen, a movement that would see several of The Trip’s key players (Nicholson, Fonda, Hopper, and very nearly Corman himself) reunite two years later for the iconic Easy Rider.

2009 Archive

Image from The Trip

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