One of our country’s longest-running hippie communes, the Hog Farm was a ragtag group of free-thinkers helmed by Hugh Romney, later known as Wavy Gravy. Shortly before the Hog Farm set up an ad-hoc free kitchen at Woodstock, they conscripted a 300-pound pig named Pigasus to embark on a cross-country campaign trail bound for the presidential convention in Chicago, touting the pig as the so-called Yippie Party candidate. The whole thing was chronicled in The Hog Farm Movie, a 37-minute odyssey originally shot on 16mm film in 1967-1968, almost lost but now digitally restored in HD and finally available for public viewing on iTunes.
The Hog Farm Movie is far from a traditional documentary. An assemblage of nonlinear storytelling, the film is equal parts historical record, home movie, and surrealist fantasy—a hallucinatory trip back in time for a journey across America with a caravan of 40 painted buses and two geodesic domes—plus a band and a light show to boot.
One of the few complete, intelligible sentences uttered in the film is: “Leave your fear in the rear of the bus and play with us!” Indeed, the “documentary” reveals a kind of playground procession of medieval-like minstrels reincarnated into a gaggle of 1960s hippies, the soundtrack a pastiche of overlapping voices and animal noises, with trippy, disjointed music composed by none other than Jack Kerouac’s muse, Neal Cassady—among others. Tiny Tim makes an appearance, as Wavy Gravy prances about in an authentic jester costume. Even law enforcement officials in the film seem charmed by the group of free-spirited creatives, which included Paul Foster, an alumnus of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters who was employed as a computer programmer for NASA’s Apollo team.
Filmmaker David Lebrun directed The Hog Farm Movie, infusing a dose of philosophy mixed with anthropology into a moving portrait of a flock full of colorful characters. It’s also worth noting that Lebrun edited an Academy Award-winning feature documentary about the conflict between the Hopi and Navajo called Broken Rainbow (1985).
In the end, The Hog Farm Movie is virtually indescribable, making it required viewing for the student of psychedelia who longs to be transported back to an era when cutlery served as wind chimes, long-haired children played barefoot, and a pig actually ran for president.