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USA 1970
Directed by
Michael Wadleigh
184 minutes
Rated M

4 stars


Whilst Woodstock has some memorable performances such as Joe Cocker’s “With A Little My Friends”,  Ten Years After's "Goin' Home", Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice”, Sly and The Family Stone's “'I Want to Take You Higher” and Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner”. it isn't as a concert film but as a document of that brief moment in time when peace and love ruled the world that its real significance is realized. Six months later, the Rolling Stones' Altamont Speedway concert would signal the demise of flower power and by the end of 1970 both Joplin and Hendrix would be dead and the world would move on to disco and glam rock. So it goes.

Wadleigh’s film captures not only the music but above all the spirit that the concert embodied as 500,000 “freaks” turned up to Max Yazgur”s farm in upstate New York for three days of “peace and music”. The naïve optimism and, often LSD-induced, wonder of the participants, performers, organizers and attendees alike today looks almost other-worldly and this is the film’s great charm although at times, as when a very stoned John Sebastian takes the stage, it borders on the asinine.  Although not a film that can sustain repeated viewings in its entirety, Woodstock is a major document of the 20th century (and, as is now well known, it is where a young Martin Scorsese cut his teeth as a concert director).




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