Woodstock (1970)

woodstock poster 1970 documentary
10 Overall Score

A great looking, great sounding documentary that captures a time period

It is really long and probably not a one-sitting movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Woodstock

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  March 26, 1970

MPAA Rating:  R

woodstock joe cocker a little help from my friends

We all need a little help from our friends!

From August 15 to August 17, 1969, a massive festival was planned at White Lake, New York.  What started out as a paid event became the ultimate free concert and the lynchpin for a generation.  The concert boasted some of the biggest performers at the time but events of the three days went down in history.  The attendees, the people of New York, and the musicians came together for an event that was never recreated though people tried…and history was made.

Directed by Michael Wadleigh, Woodstock was a musical documentary.  The film has been released and released multiple times in different versions.  The original film ran over three hours but a director’s cut stretched over three and half hours.  The movie won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature with nominations for Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

woodstock skinnydipping swimming surfboard

Row, Row, Row Your Boat!

It would be easy to say that Woodstock is all about the music, and it could have been simply a documentary of the concert.  Instead of focusing on the music, the documentary makers tried to get to the heart of Woodstock…and they found something great.

The nice part of Woodstock is that everyone (for the most part) got along for three days.  With such a large gathering of people, it feels like a recipe for disaster…especially in today’s standards.  There were a few drug issues (don’t take the brown acid), but the kids largely were kids without hurting anyone.

The other aspect is the relationship between the kids and the people in town.  Not everyone was happy with the huge influx of people into the small town, but many of the people that the crews talked to were actually happy or surprised by how well they got along with everyone.  It is refreshing not to have such a positive intergenerational interaction.

woodstock jimi hendrix star spangled banner

Rock out, USA!

The movie does bank on great performances by lots of great performers (including people like Hendricks and Joplin who were lost too early).  It also includes performances by people with long, prolific careers like The Who and Joe Cocker, but it is good to see them at such a young age.  It is mixed with some fantastic editing (and great sound recording) that goes a long way to bring the whole experience to the viewer.

Watching Woodstock is both enjoyable and sad.  It is enjoyable to see a great moment in music history but also U.S. history.  The artists are young and fresh and everyone is having a good time.  It is what also makes Woodstock sad.  In 1994, young adults desperately tried to recreate the event for the 25th anniversary…but commercialism and changing times would not allow it.  Woodstock became one of the biggest free concerts of all time after being invaded and despite an initial pushback, the producers were ok with the financial loss by creating something epic…something that will probably never be rivaled.

Related Links:

Monterey Pop (1968)

Gimme Shelter (1970)

The Summer of Soul (…:Or When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) (2021)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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