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Hofmann's Potion (2002)

7.2
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Researchers try to establish the medical benefits of LSD.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Duncan Blewett ...
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Abram Hoffer ...
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Laura Archera Huxley ...
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Timothy Leary ...
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Ralph Metzner ...
Himself (as Dr. Ralph Metzner)
Humphry Osmond ...
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Myron Stolaroff ...
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Storyline

Researchers try to establish the medical benefits of LSD.

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Documentary

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Release Date:

September 2002 (Canada)  »

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1.85 : 1
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Quotes

[first lines]
Albert Hofmann: I think that the possibility to have psychedelic experience is inborn. These psychedelics - very similar compounds are in our brain; of all the compounds which you find in the plant kingdom only the psychedelics are so closely related chemically to these brain factors, which we already have. We speak about the paradise of childhood. When I had this vision and beautiful experience as a child, this is no wonder, because we have these compounds already in our brain.
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Be Somewhere Now
16 April 2008 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Documentaries differ from ordinary film in one special way. One comes to a fiction film knowing that the value in it is what is left out. If the filmmaker and her collaborators have done a good job, they will have created a narrative, a story, and you do that by careful economy.

Documentaries differ in the sense that they purport to reveal a truth. They rely on narrative as well, but the presumption is that this narrative is discovered from what truly exists and is shaped in a way that minimally helps us grasp it.

Here we have a narrative about a substance whose property is that it gives us a slippery reality. It and its cousins have profound powers and by simple osmosis have affected every visual thing, every cinematic lexicon, and much literary shape. And here we have a film that leaves out too much, and since it consists of primarily interviews with LSD researchers (all of whom testify to altered truth) the thing has problems.

The narrative is simple enough. This is a serious chemical with effects that are worthy of serious, scientific study. This study is not allowed in the US (while research in other drugs is). The reason in this story is because Tim Leary promoted the drug as something inevitable and necessary for everyone — the next stage. Scads of young people took it and ended up in anti-war protests, so the story goes. This, coupled with government guilt over sponsoring Army research into using it as a weapon, have resulted in unreasonable proscription of otherwise promising research.

But the story leaves too much out.

The Army research was much more nuanced than reported, and in fact related work continues today. The researchers that are interviewed all took the drug themselves, so we get a tangled mess in terms of perspectives. You can't objectively observe something you think changed your life.

This was very well done for what it was. But I think they should have put more in. Then they would have found a better story. Sure, it would have been a different story than jack- booted thugs stomp on flower children — that story does exist. But they merely borrowed it for the far richer story that we will have to wait for someone else to tell.

Ram Dass is always a joy to encounter though.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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