Saturday, August 20, 2011

Woodstock (1970)

Post a 3-400 word response on Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh. Here's an interview with Wadleigh from 1970, just as Woodstock was being released. It's an interesting take on the concert and the rise of music:

Here's a good short look at what the film doesn't capture directly:


  1. The documentary film on Woodstock was a visual understanding of 1969. Half a million individuals attended Woodstock looking for peace, fun, and obviously for their interest in music. The music festival was held on a farm in Bethel, New York. The film starts out with interviews with the town citizens and their opinions on the music fesitival that is about to take place. The film also shows how Woodstock was built. The young generation of 1969 were the people who created and built Woodstock. The song, "A Long Time Gone" by Crosby Stills Nash & Young at the beginning of the film was a very happy and uplifting part of the documentary. At first Woodstock was a festival people had to pay for, then they changed it to a free festival, due to a lot of people sneaking in. Throughout the documentary there is a lot of use of split screen to show interviews and what was actually happening at the festival at the same time. The split screen also showed the performances by the music artists and the people in the crowd at the same time. The split screen helped show many different moments of the festival and the people there as well. Another scene that stood out to me was the rain and mud scene. Everyone was looking for a good time and didn't care what other people thought and didn't care to get dirty. They were free to do what they wanted. The 60's was a very conservative time in America. The people of Woodstock were breaking free of the past by being free, expressing peace, and becoming different. The documentary has a lot of scenes with nudity and people doing drugs, which showed that they didn't care about society's rules or opinions. Woodstock broke free of old American ways. The people of Woodstock didn't like the idea of war, they liked the idea of love and peace. This film shows how these idividuals changed their generation. My favorite scenes from the film were Joe Cocker singing "With a Little Help From My Friends" and Jimi Hendix's performance of "The Star Spangled Banner". All the artists from Woodstock showed a lot of passion in their performances. You could tell they felt the same way the festival goers did about being free and peace.

  2. In 1969 a new breed of individual was released upon the world. Up until this point in time living a proper and conservative life was the only way that you as a person could be considered "socially acceptable". However, with a country returning from war, peace and tranquility were the only things that the young people of this era wanted. How did they achieve that? Music. As rock n' roll artists began to speak of individuality and independence, the young began to listen. In the documentary Woodstock you can see how all of these ideas are put into motion. People began to see that they did not have to fit the mold in order to be accepted by other people. With groups and artists such as The Who, CCR, Jimi Hendrix, and Santana, it is easy to see why 400,000 people traveled from across the country to be a part of this event. It is amazing to know that this many people gathered in one place and no serious injuries occured. This goes to show just how much the people of this generation wanted peace, harmony, and music in their lives. A great deal of new things were exposed to the conservative world during this three day festival. The people of this generation experimented with drugs and alcohol and were very comfortable with the human body. Because of the combination of all three of these things, it was not uncommon to see people running around nude during this event. Before this time both women and men were encouraged to be modest in the way that they dressed so the new "outrageous" fashion wave that this group brought with them also stirred up controversy. At the end of the three day weekend, it was easy to see that this peace-loving generation changed the way the America saw each other and music. Today, I think that we should all thank this era for making the world of love and music what it is today.

  3. From Kenta:

    Woodstock Festival was by far the biggest and the highest promoted event of the 60s. Woodstock was more than just a music festival, it symbolized the counterculture in all its pride, with hippies participating most in what they believed in. The festival took place on farmer Max Yasgurs land in Bethel, New York in August 1969. The town of Woodstock itself was against holding a music festival, but in July the farmer agreed to letting out his farm to the event. Around 400,000 to 500,000 people attended the festival, the most ever attended music event until the 60s.
    Woodstock was faced with mixed reviews. There were some scepticisms, criticisms and praises. But people were more hit with shock at the scale of Woodstock. Local government officials were opposed to Woodstock; there were already some pretty grim stories of other festivals trying to follow Monterey’s footsteps that were not as successful. Like the June 1969’s Newport Pop Festival, though it was a very high attended concert with 150,000 people, the massive drug distributions resulted in violence and arrests from the police. Local community leaders vowed not to have another festival like the Newport ones.
    One of the most important features of Woodstock was the drug intake. Most everyone took drugs; it was one of those things that were distributed freely around like food or water, in fact there was more drugs going around than food. Sanitary conditions were very poor; the suppliers for the event were not anticipating that many people attending, hence there was a shortage of food. But drugs was something that brought the people closer together and made the festival one of peace and love. Medical tents were set up for people going through bad experiences with LSD.
    The event included a lot of gate-crashing. But eventually, the police just decided to let them go in free. The festival was already a hit and with Warner Bros planning to make a movie of the event, they profits were already running high. All that was left was ensuring that fans had an unforgettable time. Rick Gavras, a teenager who attended Woodstock describes his experience.
    A lot of stuff sure appeared weird. Maybe a lot of that had to do with how people looked…Just seeing so many strange, strangely adorned people and all the costumes and just the intensity of how the people were relating to each other in a lot of ways. Not so much through speaking and everything, but just through the experience and the being there and people kind of smiling and dancing.

  4. From Danielle:

    My original impression of the 1960's was that the decade was all about peace and acceptance as well as protesting the governemnt in various ways exhibited through their lifestyle. I was under the impression that the individuals who represented this era embraced people of all groups, even those that the previous generation refused to accept as the same class of human. Certain things such as music, sex and drugs played a significant role in this culture. As far as Woodstock goes, I though that it was a large music festival where many classic rock artists preformed and the audience listened, had sex, and did a variety of drugs. While most of my preconceptions were validated by the documentary Woodstock, 3 Days of Peace and Music, it also pointed out some obvious misconceptions such as: in reality there wasn't any violence like I had thought, there was a much larger turn out than I had assumed, and it cost much more than I had expected.
    One of the main themes I noticed and that the film does a great job of demonstrating is how many people attended Woodstock in 1969. The individuals who organized this memorable event only expected 200,000 people when the crowd count ended up reaching an impressive 500,000. They were able to properly portray this mass by screne shots of all of the people in the field listening to the music, the long and continual line of cars waiting to reach that farm in Bethel, New York, and various quotes from people who attended as well as those that observed the continual flow of concert goers. One observer said it was "like an army invading the toen". One quote that stood out was that there were so many people, one girl couldn't find her sister the entire time they were there. Another one was when the highway was shut down because of the major backup the festival had caused. Originally this was a ticketed event, but there were so many people that they start letting people in for free.
    Whats one of the first things you ask when it comes to an event this large? How much did it cost? The number was around $2,000,000. When asked what they thought about the fact the they were taking such a large financial blow, the organizers of Woodstock responded with "the welfare of the people and music is more important than the money they're loosing" and that seeing that many people cooperate peacefully was worth more than any amount of money.
    How did 500,000 people live together peacefully? This was one of the biggest parts of the documentary. Easy, they worked as a community and helped each other out as much as they could. Their optimistic and helpful outlook created a fun, carefree, peaceful environment unlike anything America had ever seen.
    The documentary enlightened me on the fact that one of the main points of Woodstock was to come together and create a new generation with new alternatives and prove that they were fully fuctional without the old generation and their way of thinking. Had this been a group of people in their parents day and age, it probably would not have ended up as well and as peaceful. They proved that when people come together with the right mindset that we can achieve anything.

  5. From Andrew H:

    when looking at woodstock, as a musician, i can not help but to look at it through those eyes. this concert meant more to the musicians and the promoters than just a way to make money. in the documentary does a great job of showing how these people had a message they wanted to send to the country if not the world. while the music was commercialy viable, it still meant something in the lyrics which is in stark contrast to what is seen as commercial today. their music was not just made to make money alone but to express art instead of try and make corprate record companies millions of dollars. when i watched this movie i couldnt help but think back to my teens in the nineties when they decided to put on a new woodstock fest. this second fest was a direct slap in the face of everything the first stood for. the first was so anti consumerism that at a certain point they just let anyone in for free and two of the promoters even said that thats what the whole thing was about, sure they were going to loose a lot of money on this but it was more about the experiance than the money. is stark contrast you see the fest of the nineties where pepsi was a major sponsor and everything was about making money. mtv alone made so much money just selling commercial time during the event. also the interview with the two kids talking about how they thought everyone there was looking for something more and i think that kind of sums up the decade of the 60's. it was a time of change for us where people started toexplore life outside of what the government told you you needed to be, only no one knew exactly what that was. woodstock seemed to be a culmination of a generation that was ready to make a chage.

  6. From Geri B:

    The year of 1969 contained a massive music and peace festival that remains in our history today. This festival is formerly known as, Woodstock. The festival took place on Max Yasgur's farm located in Bethel, New York. Woodstock was directed by Michael Wadleigh and I believe he did an amazing job. To be honest, I usually find documentaries to be kind of boring, but I must say that I was thoroughly entertained throughout this one. The beginning of the film was my favorite. They continuously showed scenes of the farm and the whole production being put together. They were prepared to entertain around 200,000 people, instead they ended up with about 1 million per day. So many people were coming to the point where they had to make it a free event. Michael did a very good job portraying the amount of people through a split screen. He used one side of the screen to interview the locals and their thoughts of the mass amount of people and the opposite side of the screen to show the crowds of people coming in. All these people traveled from across the nation to see performances by artists such as Richie Havens, Joan Beaz, Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastian, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, etc. While watching the documentary I noticed a lot more than the music. The young kids of this time were so free spirited, yet had good manners as well. Majority of them were either drinking or smoking. I also noticed that they were all very comfortable with nudity. All of them, including the guys, had long hair. Their means of transportation consisted of big buses with graffiti all over them. The part I found most astonishing is the fact that they went three whole days without a shower. It even poured down rain and it didn't bother them. They were all just so worry free. Overall, the documentary was truly inspiring to me. Woodstock was the beginning for inspirational music and this type of music is still very much a part of our society today.

  7. From Jessica W:

    The decade of the 1960's, to a music lover like myself, brings to mind specifically a new movement; the genre of rock and roll. While the country was experiencing a time of chaos, (i.e. the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war) the birth of a genre whose followers were so culturally different from the American norm decided to group together in a time a peace and music; they called it Woodstock.
    The documentary on this mass music festival, Woodstock, presented in class had numerous reoccurring themes and patterns, yet one in particular caught my interest. The lack of importance placed upon the American dollar. As seen on screen, for 9 months workers slaved to make a seemingly plain field into a fully functioning, massive music venue. Yet, the film quotes the main conductor of Woodstock stating " the music is worth more than the money, it's happening, and it has nothing to do with anything tangible."
    Roughly $2 million dollars was spent to create the Woodstock of the past as we know it, and within the film the founder of festival also quotes, " see the people stand up makes it all worth it." This quote was used during another reoccurring image placed within the film by the director, spilt screen. During this quote, on the opposite side of the screen, masses of people are shown entering the concert at no cost to them. I believe that this was used by the director to not only show the explosive volume of people that actually attended the festival, but also to depict the totally immaterialist, uncapitalistic mindset of those who put Woodstock into motion. Also, the director makes a point to show the general mindset of the attendees in two small interview clips of a younger couple that I felt was crucial to the themes of the documentary. In these interview clips, the concepts of group love, the sharing of love, and the sense of freedom brought to America by the self-proclaimed "hippies" are all made clear. Given the chance, I would like to see the film all the way through or definitely more like it. If you know not where you've been, chances are you don't know where your going either.

  8. From Matthew P:

    Woodstock was a defining moment in the history of rock and roll music. It was the first widely successful music festival, bringing together what would become staples in the genre of classic rock music. The music set the stage for a peaceful movement that is the subject of Michael Wadleigh’s documentary.
    Lead by the voices and the hands of the generation’s youth, the film shows what can be accomplished when such a powerful for as music is effectively used as a form of communication. This music and festival being captured is evidence of this force.
    The people who have gathered have come to listen to the music in hopes of “finding something”. The scene with the guy and girl who have come to Woodstock together but not “together” comes to mind as a perfect example of this being caught on camera. The film was able to portray exactly what the movement and event was about.
    This “Woodstock generation” as they would be come to known as, sought to break away from the traditions of their parent’s generation. They sought this to such an extreme extent that a group of individuals actually built and organized the entire festival. Those opening shots of the building of the festival really struck me as significant moments captured through the lens. It shows what can happen when people come together with a common purpose.
    The music they witness is the basis of a force. It is the force of human will to come together and seek out a means of expression in a world of conflict. These people coming to listen are coming in hopes of getting answers to questions they don’t even know to ask. Whether they get them or not, the film proves that it is the music that helps ignite this revolution and gives Woodstock the festival and the film a significant place in history.

  9. From Austin M:

    In 1969 half a million people made their way to Bethel, New York for the event of a lifetime. Woodstock was a 3 day music festival, something unheard of at that time, and was a place for the “Hippie” generation to gather. The arrival of the rock n’ roll genre led the way for this festival, it was a way for this generation to voice their views on the war in Vietnam, racism, drugs, world peace, and free love, according to the creator of Woodstock “music is a means of communication”. And communicated this generation did, the festival was the first of its kind to feature a large group of protestors and over the three days of the festival not a single serious injury or accident occurred, showing that half a million people can get along together without a governing body controlling them. Visually the movie is unique in that Martin Scorsese used the split screen technique. For instance when the cameramen are asking the towns people about the festival they compare it to the Rose Bowl parade, meanwhile the other side of the film is showing hundreds of thousands of cars rolling into the town parking everywhere. This helped to visually show just how big this event really was. The documentary also allows an inside look into the lifestyles and views of the people attending Woodstock. For instance, when a couple was interviewed they kept reiterating that they have been living together for the past 6 months, loved each other, but that they were not “together”, this shows the emphasis on free love expressed during this time. Nudity was also expressed freely; when it stormed at the festival several people stripped down and walked around naked. Drugs especially were a means of communication to these people, the hippies would sit around in groups passing around weed and taking acid trips. Overall Woodstock proved that these people could group together and govern themselves without any outside help, they expressed their ideas on peace, free love, anti-war, and drugs through their new form of music, rock n’ roll.

  10. When you think of the 1960’s and even more specifically 1969 you can’t help but recognize the feel of revolution and the acts of rebellion. Artists were finding their voices, critics were beginning to respect, and experimentation was key to growing up during this time period. In the Woodstock documentary the director, Michael Wadleigh uses cutting edge 1960’s filming techniques along with one of the biggest music festivals in the history of mankind to create not only a documentary of a music festival, but a documentary that people even today would consider THE defining moment of a generation. In the first few minutes of the documentary the camera focuses on a group of friends sitting on the ground around a fire outside of a teepee. I thought that this was a great place to start from and really made you think and consider where all of these people came from and are used to. Where their parents were about having a lone wolf mentality and being independent this generation was about working together and sharing life with your friends. This mentality not only created Woodstock but the bands that played in it as well. The image of friendship and working together reveals it’s self once again during the first musical performance by Richie Hammond when you see the ocean of people gathered rising one by one seeming to make the ground almost come alive. The use of the split screen which at the time was something that had never been seen before gave the viewer a point of view in which they could witness two separate events occurring simultaneously. Towards the beginning of the film the director and editors used this effect to convey the masses driving in to this small New York town while the stage was being built making it seem almost like a field of dreams sort of moment where if you build it they will come. Another impressive use of the split screen was during the big rain storm where the people in charge of the event along with the musicians start freaking out for a bit to keep the people as well as the equipment safe. However on the other side of the split screen was the free spirited crowd living and loving their life rain or shine. After watching Woodstock I believe I gained a good idea of the youth’s outlook during this time period. Peace, love, and happiness were the main points, but peppered in with those three were drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll making for a generation of experimenters and free spirits.