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Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity 2016

Not Recommended

Distributed by Scott Petersen, 6909 Knowlton Pl. #301, Los Angeles, CA 90045; 818-642-6301
Produced by Scott Petersen
Directed by Scott Petersen
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Biography, Careers, Geography, History, Interpersonal Relations, Politics, Psychology, Travel and Tourism

Date Entered: 01/12/2018

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Like many young people, Dick Russell and Steve Ewert left the United States after college to see the world and experience other cultures. Disillusioned with Vietnam-era politics and future job prospects, the two University of Kansas graduates set out for Europe and North Africa in late 1970 to participate in what Jack Kerouac called “the rucksack revolution.” What begins as a poorly planned decision to hitchhike across the Sahara desert while chronicling the trip in words and photographs, ends—not without difficulty--ten months later in Ghana. Along the way, the two men survive a series of travel-related disasters, including a mental breakdown, and become lifelong friends. The film ends with Russell, now an author and environmentalist, and Ewert, a professional photographer, meeting to comment on what was a defining moment in time for each.

The film is part travelogue, part personal reminiscences of what Ewert calls “an interesting odyssey,” It includes conventional talking head interviews with the two men, along with archival photographs, readings from Russell’s journals, some graphic elements and brief re-enactments. Narration and editing are, unfortunately, equally uninspiring. Although the film appears to be journalistically accurate, it is not clear what the filmmaker sought to achieve in recounting Russell’s and Ewert’s journey.