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Woodstock - 3 Days of Peace & Music Reviews

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Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

May 1, 2013
Many documentaries begin from the awkward position that can be described as " I am showing you something" or "I am teaching you something" but amazingly (for the format) this one is altogether different. Here is nothing short of an experience and one that (its obvious relevance aside - and there's wave upon wave of relevance here) you wish you could actually attend. Be assured: the brown acid is not poison, its just poorly manufactured ... take only half a tab to find out if its right for you.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2012
Poignantly, magical and entertaining, Woodstock it's an unforgettable trip to the 60's. With precious footages, director Michael Wadleigh, in his best work, bring one of the best documentarys about American, music, hippie, young adults, love & peace culture. A terrific study about different social levels and generations in a historical moment. 230 minutes of dazzing music and footages of a symbolized time and place. Fresh.
Dan S

Super Reviewer

April 8, 2012
A beautiful, transcendent, enormously important film about music, culture, passion, and people, and how for three days in 1969 more than 500,000 people came together to celebrate music and each other in the prime days of the hippie age. Director Michael Wadleigh has compiled some of the most layered, genuinely powerful music from the age in which music mattered (unlike today's generation which is buried by artists who exemplify misogynistic, narcissistic, and selfish traits), and when a group of people this large felt like family. This movie has a "Dazed and Confused" sort of feel to it in the sense that you feel like you are part of this crowd, watching Jimi Hendrix shred his guitar, or a heroin-addled Janis Joplin screech and holler as the crowd stands in awe of the kind of music that existed during these days. More importantly, this film serves as a unique time capsule that fully encompasses a culture paranoid about the Vietnam War and its affects, but still at ease with their lives and open to creating new friendships. One of the best documentaries ever made by far, and a film I will probably want to re-visit numerous times just so that I can wish my generation knows how far we have fallen in what is considered to be "good/great music".

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2010
I could literally watch this movie every day and it is not just for the music. The actual documentary, that I think a lot of pretentious viewers over look, is a stunning gaze into the eyes of the generations that have passed us and given today so much of what makes it good in music, morals and peace. I am a giant fan of most of the musicians that do play magnificently through out but more to the point I am a fan of the people who were truly real, before television turned us into retards. I feel this movie should be seen more as a documentary of American culture and that of the time, rather than being tarred with a narrow minded brush of music movie.

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This is actual footage from Woodstock, if you love 60s rock and roll or just want to know what it was like to be there, this is the movie for you. It's really very interesting, I highly recommend it.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

March 2, 2009
Sprawling, historically significant documentary about the concert that occurred on Max Yasgur's farm at Bethel, New York in August 1969. This chronicle does more to explain the 60s counterculture than perhaps any other record. Using split-screen techniques, director Michael Wadleigh, shows us performances, mixed with interviews of both the artists and attendees. The many logistical problems that occurred in putting on this show are ignored in favor of presenting an idyllic view of "3 Days of Peace & Music". Not particularly honest, but consistently entertaining, nonetheless.
Jason O

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2009
I didn't think I'd like this movie nearly as much as I did. The concert performances are good, even from the artists I'm not wild about, but to me what makes this movie excellent isn't that but just how free everybody seems. Makes me wish I would've been alive and couldn't been there at Woodstock! Probably the best documentary I've ever seen yet.
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2008
Still one of the best music documentaries ever made. Maybe the greatest assembly of musical talent ever assembled for a concert. So many great musicians who died before their time. Martin Scorsese cut his teeth as a music documentary editor and assistant director on this baby. Jimi Hendrix is the guitar maestro of all time; he still mesmerizes me every time I see him. Wish I could have experienced him live . . .

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2008
Probably one of the best documentaries ever, one could argue that the film needed more live music but the performances they do show are amazing.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2012
If you thought that thirty or forty minutes or so of hippies just hanging out until music started playing in "Gimme Shelter" was hard enough to work through, how about they make a film about that, and make said film twice as long as the entirety of "Gimme Shelter"? I don't know how they made three hours of that work, on the whole, but they did, or at least they must have had to, seeing as how I saw the considerably extended director's cut, and that alone was working just fine. Man, I can't completely recall another documentary that has an actual director's cut (Just wait, I don't think Ridley Scott has done a documentary yet), yet if any documentary was gonna have one, I would expect it to be this one. If anyone is wondering just why in the world they tacked on "3 Days of Peace & Music" to the title of this film, just for the director's cut, it's because the director's cut pretty much shows the entirety of Woodstock in realtime. No, this is quite a ways away from "Gods and Generals" when it comes to lengthy director's cuts, yet make no mistake, this puppy is but a minute shy of the extended cut to "The Two Towers". Still, I guess I don't mind that too much, because this film still hit more than enough [u]high[/u] points (See what I did there?) than it [u]tripped[/u] (Woo, I did it again), thus making this tour through Woodstock and ultimately really [u]good trip[/u] (I'm rolling more than these hippies did their weed). Still, if you're thinking that three or three-and-three-quarter hours of hippies just hanging out until music starts doesn't wear down on you here and there then, well, seriously, you need to see at least the second half of "Gimme Shelter".

Okay, now, the extensive, somewhat dry meditation upon nothingness is somehow not nearly as intense as it is in other fly-on-the-wall music documentaries, yet if you thought that I had to be joking when I said that suck documentaries as "Dont Look Back" and "Gimme Shelter" were little to nothing more than excess material and nothingness built around no narrative, with music only occasionally breaking up the monotony, then you might actually bust out laughing that this documentary really is much more than three hours of just that. I'm serious people, because, again, while it's not as bad in here, there's still so little that happens outside of musical performances, with narrative being almost entirely devoid. Granted, I found myself compelled by the brief subplot, or rather, only plot of the Chip Monck, the really charming announcer and Master of Ceremonies, having to keep coming in and tell people about which acid they can and can't take, but that's not so much a plot as it is me desperately reaching out for some continuous activity. Others have taken on non-focus documentation with better results than others' and some have taken it on with worse results than others', with this is film presenting among, if not the stand-alone best results, yet with that said, many periods of time within this film fall steamless, or even rather dull, so, much like the users of the brown acid, proceed with caution. Most, if not just about all examples of non-plot fly-on-the-wall music documentaries have not desceneded into tedium or even mediocrity, yet few, if any others have stood as genuinely good, which of course summons the question, "what makes this better than others?" It's hard to explain, yet what I can tell you is that it has plenty going for it, and enough for it to reach enough of a high note (Drug pun not intended that time) and stand as not just surprisingly entertaining on the whole, but just downright rewarding. If nothing else keeps you going with the film, then it's its light, yet nifty stylistic touches that make more of a difference than you would ever have expected.

Outside of The Who's fittingly pretty cool, random pause-play slow-motion introduction, a stylistic move also used as Sly and the Family Stone's and the following Janis Joplin's outro, about the only stylistic touches you get throughout this film are plays with aspect ratio and plenty of split-screen presentations of different angles or events happening at the same time. Hearing that concept, it's hard to imagine the style being all that nifty, let alone enough to keep this film from collapsing into underwhelmingness, yet as I said, those subtle touches make all the difference. Director and co-editor Michael Wadleigh's dynamic view of the event captures all of its scope, as well as its intimacy in a brilliantly unique and subtley transcendant fashion that stands as quite the testament to how a fly-on-the-wall documentary of this type should be done. Sure, it's not enough for the film to completely transcend its moments of steam loss, yet the structure of execution of this film is defined and made so effective by its style, as it emphatically pronounces the glorious sweep to ingeniously and ever so immersively drench the film in a genuine feel for the festivity, while the more intimate pieces of stylish meditation, while maybe showing us too much of the people are just plain crazy, rather than noble, shows off the versatility and color within the population of this timeless festival, reflecting the people's comfort and peacefulness in a soberingly human fashion, as well as their just plain having fun in a fashion that is, well, often entertaining. The intimacy of the documentary's structure really connects with the famous festival's themes, and that not only includes the theme of peacefulness, but also the theme of music, which is presented with spirited love and care, made all the sweeter by the fact that this concert is so well-known for more of a reason than the fact that it was all built around the hippies: because it was also just plain awesome. Sure, plenty of reportedly great performances are abridged, if not completely omitted, while certain performances actually featured are better than others, with Joan Baez especially laming and dulling up the joint, and not just with her drawn out story about her then-husband David Harris' imprisonment for protest, yet on the whole, this concert is about as top-notch as the lengends foretold, with many a great performance (About half of which being by Jimi Hendrix) by many a great classic talent really adding a delicious kick to this dish and further intensifying the aforementioned immersive feel of festivity. Where most music documentaries of a similar type that start out good lose general steam, little by little, this film, outside of its own occasions of steam loss, almost seems as though it grows stronger in its progression, pulling you deeper and deeper into this world by gracing it with resonant humanity and consistent entertainment value, all through fitting and deeply impacting subtlety that transports you deeply into this era and leaves even the already nostalgiac to grow more appreciative of the wonderment, grandness and overall fun and humanity of such a legendary, monumental experience, making the final product a definitive music documentary experience that may not be intense enough by its own right to really stand tall, yet still has enough at its back to make it a relative essential in the film catalogue to which it belongs.

At the end of the three days, the documentary can't escape its pronounced lack of narrative intrigue, spawned from a very fly-on-the-wall structure, complete with excess footage that, on occasion, dulls down the film and leaves it to lose enough steam in some places to ultimately find itself rendered incapable of transcending to full-on excellence, as a general film, yet its subtle but brilliantly unique stylistic touches generally reflect the sweeping broadness and, by extension, thrilling festivity of the legendary event, as well as a degree of intimacy that not only adds an extra immersive kick to the top-notch performances, but also gives a genuinely human and transporting feel for the rich diversity and sobering peacefulness of the environment, thus making Michael Wadleigh's "Woodstock" a very faithful, transcendant and all around fun tribute to the unforgettable music festival of music festivals.

3/5 - Good
Ivan D

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2012
"3 days of peace and music". This has been the phrase that has been most associated with the monumental music event that is "Woodstock". But this documentary film itself, aside from being able to highlight just that in an epic (it runs for a staggering 3 hours and 50 minutes) and almost hypnotic kind of way, is a definitive benchmark in documentary filmmaking.

Today, it can be particularly debated that what happened in "Woodstock" is but a niche manifestation of an obscure state of mind not representative of what America really was at the time. There's also some who may argue that the far out, violence-free miracle that has occurred at that vast dairy farm at Bethel, New York is merely a temporary illusion of transcendental happiness completely demystified by what happened at Altamont Speedway (see "Gimme Shelter") when the Rolling Stones held a free concert there less than four months later; a tragically sobering event (one homicide and 3 other deaths) that is commonly regarded as the "Anti-Woodstock".

But still, after more than 40 years since the figurative birth of this 'hippie' counterculture generation at this legendary music festival, "Woodstock" the documentary is truly potent and also often times genuinely powerful and moving in its truly flawless documentation of both a fragment of social history and a particular highlight not just of pot-induced rock and roll but the unparalleled sway of music in general.

Director Michael Wadleigh, supported in editing and directing by the likes of Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese (both were then-unknown), who painstakingly covered the whole festival with an unbounded passion and goal to cinematically present and capture "Woodstock" not simply as one of those rock concert documentaries that usually come and go but as a simulated experience of what it could have been to walk through mud and smoke some weed at the time, has pulled off the nearly impossible by way of how he has put this massive Aquarian assemblage into a cohesive cinematic whole without sacrificing the minute details of almost everything that has happened there. So, although "Woodstock" the documentary is a solidly realistic time capsule of a film that has finely preserved the era itself, it has also transformed, after all these years, into a timeless film that is as much a thing of envy for free willing, flower-minded folks today as much as it is a perfectly documented curiosity piece for present social scientists.

But aside from being limited into what it merely is (a documentary film), what this documentary can be specifically proud of aside from the very content itself is its utter display of great cinematography and skillful editing. Jumping back and forth between simple interview footages and complex multi-image coverage of every musical performances ranging from that of Richie Havens' to that of Janis Joplin's and Jimi Hendrix's (all spine-chillingly great performances, mind you) that seemingly converge in a trance-inducing visual feast, the film, as it progresses, slowly changes form from being your usual documentary feature into a full-fledged experience; from your usual cinematic collage into a kaleidoscopic wonderland.

As equally fascinating as the musical performances themselves are the slices of existence during the 3-day event that were finely captured by Wadleigh and company's ever-observant lenses with poignant subtlety, which is what makes it a documentary film that is on the league of its own. Just like the great "Gimme Shelter", "Woodstock" is also devoid of any post-production voice-overs or narrations that may simply render the whole film as thematically contrived and emotionally artificial. Instead, the film lets the whole event and all the people speak for themselves in a quasi-surrealistic presentation of images and music that has been masterfully put together to create a potent statement on its own with little to no spoken words.

Commonly branded as the definitive rock concert documentary, I think it's much more than that. For many people including myself, "Woodstock" is not just a simple music festival. Boundless in its audacity and rich in love, it is a cultural revolution that has thankfully found its place in the annals of socio-cultural history, much the same way as how this film has deservedly found where it truly belongs: in the shortlist of the most important documentary films ever made.

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2008
An epic documentary, not just of the musical acts and the festival itself, but as a snapshot of the time. Top class performances with equally fascinating interviews and crowd shots. A wonderful look at a very special moment in history. Favourite performances would be Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Country Joe ("One, two, three, what are we fighting for?") and of course Jimi Hendrix

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2009
This legendary documentary about the legendary concert manages to live up to an almost impossible challenge: being able to encompass a three day long event that has been built up far beyond what it probably actually was. The film runs well over three hours and features one or two songs from most of the most memorable acts that were there that day. Ultimately though it, isn?t really the music that?s most memorable but the documentary material about the hippies in the mud and the townsfolk reacting to it all. I don?t really have many complaints except that the quality of the music does very a lot and I also wasn?t much impressed by all the split screen, I liked the solid images a lot better than the divided footage.

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2008
Terrific.A prolific documentary,filled with tantalizing musical appearances,no wonder why this project became a true belief for the early 70's rock joint.Mythical songs and real-time interviews,undoubtedly one of the greatest documentaries of all time.
January 10, 2011
"Don't eat the brown acid." A glimpse of the most famous music festival in history. It's fun to watch a bunch of dirty hippies loving each other and taking their cloths off and we can wonder, 'is it the drugs, or was there really something special happening.' While not of big fan of most of this music, I particularly enjoyed The Who's performance.
May 24, 2007
A great documentary of the greatest concert the planet has ever seen. A must-have if you love music. A must-have if you've never heard of any of these people before because this concert was one of the most important moments in American history, and perhaps world history. My favorite parts of this film have nothing to do with the music. It's the out-takes, the people crashing on acid, concert organizers freaking out because they think the government is going to shut them down. Everything that was filmed was real, engaging and interesting. It's history. It was rumored that Carlos Santana put on such a great performance because he was tripping out badly on something and his guitar was morphing into a snake while he was playing it. He was just trying to hold onto it. You can't write fiction that good.
March 6, 2010
good & real about Woodstock festival... great seeing my faves Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin & Joe Cocker - timeless music...
April 8, 2009
The cream ofthe crop of rock n roll movies. From Sha Na Na to Hendrix and back. Free Love, sex & drugs and rock n roll. All good. A 500,000 population or as Arlo Guthrie says "You're truly amazing! You're a whole city!"
April 2, 2009
Not only one of the top 5 documentaries I've ever seen, on of my favorite films of all time. A time capsule piece of a time and era I wish I'd experienced.
August 22, 2008
I don't know what is up with me and sixties concerts! Between this and Gimme Shelter, I fall in love.

Okay, everyone knows that Woodstock equals super-big concert that hippies will talk about until their dying day. I get it. At least, I thought I got it. Okay, I had no idea how big the damned thing was. I mean, the place was declared a disaster area! Do you realize how nuts that is? Half-a-million people all in one area. Now, they kept throwing that number around the movie, but I couldn't wrap my head around it until I saw the long helicopter tracking shot. That is the kind of stuff that blows my mind. That's the reason I wanted to see this movie.

Now, I love music, but music has always been my least nerdy aspect. I can talk shop about film, literature, comic books, etc., etc., etc. Music I kind of suck at. Maybe because I have terrible taste. I'm not talking terrible compared to most of America. No, I'm a connosieur compared to mainstream pop culture. But compared to other nerds, I kind of suck at it. Mainly, it takes quite a few listens to for me to really wrap my head around the music and allow it to become emotional. While it was still impressive to see these classic, vintage performances (in cases like Hendrix, historic!) I was much more involved with the documentary footage that goes on. The people there was the interesting part. Sure, I'm not a hippie. Heck, in a lot of cases, I want to punch hippies in their stupid hippie faces, but I really loved seeing a lot of the people at the time. Sure, there was still a fair share of hippies that I wanted to punch in their hippie faces, but then there were those kids who were just people going to a lifechanging event. I looked at them and can see that as much as things have changed, there are some fundamental things that stay the same.

But there were the hippies that I wanted to punch in the face and that's what made the movie even better for me. I think that some of the filmmakers could smell crazy like the rest of us and could step out of their decade to point out what was kind of crap. For some reason, I don't think that hippies were too particular about what they found truly great. Frankly, I'm talking about the performance art sections of the movie. I'm not saying all performance art sucks. I'm saying that a lot of it sucks. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that all hippie performance art sucks. But there were people mesmorized by the word "explosion." Very subtle, hippies. Point one goes to me for not being stupid crazy.

I do have to really give credit to Wadleigh. He really balances a four hour film very well. There's easy ways to film the movie and that would be to treat each performer's set uniformly. Wadleigh goes the opposite direction and almost makes music videos for each performer somewhat reflecting the mentality of the artist and that is a heck of a thing to see. Sure, I'm not talking about full out, but just doing some cool camera tricks from time to time with some very fun editing made the movie really effective.

There is one thing that I really have to respect about the whole Woodstock scene that was really stressed in the movie. That is the idea that half-a-million people can get together, cause a disaster area, live in a form of poverty for three days in the mud by their own accord...

...and be very cool and innocent during it all.

Sure, there were drugs. They're hippies. They cover that. But honestly, this seemed like a very fun time without half-a-million people (or one person) acting like a complete douche. As anti-hippie as I am, I gotta respect that and it is very cool. Keeping that theme in mind, this is a great concert film and just a really impressive endeavor. Watch this one. You'll totally dig it.
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