(director: Michael Wadleigh; cinematographers: Don Lenzer/David Meyers/Richard Pearce/Mr. Wadleigh/Al Wertheimer; editors: Jere Huggins/Thelma Schoonmaker/Martin Scorsese/Mr. Wadleigh/Stanley Warnow/Yeu-Bun Yee; cast: Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Who, Joe Cocker, Arlo Guthrie, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Sha Na Na, Crosby, Stills & Nash, John Sebastian, Country Joe & the Fish; Runtime: 228; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Bob Maurice/Dale Bell; Warner Home Vídeo; 1970)
“Everyone is there, from Wavy Gravy to Janis.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A film for the time capsule; a symbol of the turbulent revolutionary 1960s in America. It won an Oscar as Best Documentary in 1970. It chronicles the world famous three-day peace and musical festival attended by as many as half a million mostly young people held on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York, in the summer of 1969. Under Michael Wadleigh’s direction, using to great effect split-screen and as many as twenty cameras, the event gets the royal treatment from the film-maker. The music is all there in the raw footage of the wide variety of singers (from my faves the spine-tingling energetic Joe Cocker to a crowd-pleasing psychedelic John Sebastian), plus the peaceful feel coming from the playful crowds that attended in the spirit of making it a communal love-in despite muddy conditions and other discomforts such as long lines for use of the Port-O-San sanitary facilities. If you attended the festival it can only bring back memories of the way it was back then–peace, love, foolishness and drugs–a nation of young people who clamored for a better world than the one their parents gave them. For those who did not attend, it gives them a sense of the mood that prevailed. This is one of the finest musical documentaries ever made, if not the best (still the best filming of performances ever). It’s one that’s worth having in your video collection. Everyone is there, from Wavy Gravy to Janis.
REVIEWED ON 11/10/2005 GRADE: A+