Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

1970

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

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Total Count: 24

92%

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Movie Info

This iconic musical documentary covers the three-day 1969 music festival on the property of Max Yasger's farm that symbolized the late 1960s in terms of musical, social and political ideology of the era. American audiences are introduced to Ten Years After, featuring guitar great Alvin Lee. Jimi Hendix, The Who and Joe Cocker give riveting performances. As naked flower children romp, the New York freeway is closed because of traffic congestion. Music lovers leave their cars and travel on foot only survive torrential downpours of rain, food shortages and non-stop music. Jefferson Airplane gives the wake up call with their song "Volunteers Of America." Crosby, Stills and Nash deliver a memorable performance. John Sebastian gives an impromptu set with a borrowed guitar from Tim Hardin. Santana, Sly and The Family Stone, Sha-Na-Na, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens and Joan Baez also appear. The movie did big box office business and a successful three record set sold millions of copies. The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival and Janis Joplin performed but were not shown in the film. The Dead's Jerry Garcia recalled that it was the worst live show the band ever did, ironic for a band known for their spirited live performances. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (24)

Audience Reviews for Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

  • May 01, 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.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 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.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer

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