Understanding the Hippie Movement

When we think “hippie” we think of the 1960s and 70s, of protest marches and tie-dye, long hair and clouds of pot smoke. We think of free love, and a movement that swept the globe.

If we take a closer look, we can identify certain elements of the time that played significant roles in the movement, from food to philosophy to spiritual practices. These 5 films examine each of these aspects. None of them alone are specifically about hippies (okay, except for one), but each of them allow us to understand a little more about the movement.

The Sunny Munchy Crunchy Natural Food Shop

Everything old is new again, as you can plainly see from this short doc from 1973. Not about hippies, per se, but certainly a crash course on the food that sustained a vast number of them. One of the best ways to get to know a community is by getting to know its food, and the health food craze was in full force during the hippie movement.

The Sunny Munchy Crunchy Natural Food Shop, Richard Todd, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The India Trip

This doc, also from the 1970s, takes us on a journey to Pondicherry, India, where a Concordia University professor settled with his family for a year while on sabbatical. While the film takes us on a sprawling tour of the area, it also focuses on the many westerners who flocked to India in the 70s to practice yoga on the beach and visit next-level hippie communes in next-door Auroville.

The India Trip, Bill Davies, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The Mystical Brain

A little skeptical of the whole meditation craze? Over the past decade, meditation has hit full-force, despite being a ritual since as far back as we can remember. Or at least to the 5th century BCE. But if you’re more science-driven, this doc offers a great look at a study that attempts to measure the difference between people who meditate, and those who don’t.

Mystical Brain, Isabelle Raynauld, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Mudflats Living

Now we get into some serious hippie business. Welcome to North Vancouver in the early 70s, when a peaceful anti-establishment group (read: hippies) decide to settle (read: squat) on a piece of land earmarked for other ventures by the city. This is a film that provides you with an authentic experience – down to the hippie-era nudity, but without the pesky drug-use.

Mudflats Living, Robert Fresco & Kris Paterson, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey

Yes, I know that Kerouac would be rolling over in his grave to have himself featured in a post about hippies, but how could we not include a film about the man who (perhaps unintentionally) was one of the earliest voices of the movement? Besides, it’s a good film and well worth the watch.

Jack Kerouac's Road – A Franco-American Odyssey, Herménégilde Chiasson, provided by the National Film Board of Canada