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Film: Woodstock

"Three days of peace, love and music."

In the Summer of '69, a couple of capitalists decided to hold a festival in a field, with a few big name acts. After a long fight to get it done, they got a deal with farmer Max Yasgur. The festival was called Woodstock.

Originally tickets were sold by mail and through magazine ads, with plans to sell more at the door. Over 100,000 tickets were sold, but people started arriving several days early, before the fence and ticket gates were completed; faced with the choice between completing the stage and completing the fence, the promoters decided to get the stage in order and call it a free concert. With such an open invitation in place, over 500,000 people are believed to have shown up. Then it got worse. Woodstock was a giant catastrophe: The bands couldn't get to the concert and had to be flown in. Food and other facilities were ostensibly planned for 50,000 (even though the aforementioned 100,000 tickets had been sold), but city councilmen and others noted that the provisions weren't even sufficient for that number, leading to the National Guard airlifting in food and water by helicopter. There was lots of rain and a giant storm struck, shutting it down for hours and two people accidentally diednote .

But at the same time the festival was noted for its sense of peace. The crowd was so peaceful over the three days that even the mainstream media like The New York Times praised the event for being so orderly with a well behaved audience. People were getting along and showing love to each other. Not only that, but the roster of bands were great. These included The Who, The Band, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash and & Young, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joan Baez and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few.

The festival was filmed and turned into a documentary. It is regarded as one of the best documentaries and concert films ever. Not only because of the performances, but also as the main focus was the festival itself. It really portrays the atmosphere and the feelings there. It was also one of Martin Scorsese's first works (he was an editor for it). Most important for the producers, the film proved so big a box office hit that its earnings more than paid off the losses from the festival itself.

Woodstock was the swan song for The Sixties. It showed the dream of peace and understanding as working, combined with great music. But not long after, an attempt at a West Coast equivalent, a free concert at the Altamont Speedway headed up by The Rolling Stones, would end in tragedy — a man wound up getting killed by the Hells Angels, who had been hired as security. (This concert and its cruel outcome were chronicled the documentary Gimme Shelter.) The innocence that was the height of Woodstock would die and later attempts to recapture its spirit were all failures, including two Woodstock "sequels" in 1994 and 1999. The 1999 Woodstock became legendary for its audience rioting on the final night, which went completely against the spirit of the first, and showcased just how much society had moved to the other end of the Sliding Scale since the idealistic '60s.

In media depictions of Woodstock, fictional or otherwise, the Nostalgia Filter will be operating at full power. Characters flashing back to Woodstock will have all been Bohemian hippies, despite a large number of ordinary joes (many of them college students) and returning Vietnam vets. Traffic jams and overpriced concessions (while they lasted) will be replaced by camping out in vans and everybody sharing out of a sense of peace and love. The filthy conditions will be either ignored or romanticized as free-spirited youth playing in the mud. The music will be Nothing But Hits, despite the lineup consisting of five or six headliners and dozens of forgettable and not-yet-famous bands.note 

Despite all this, however, such depictions still capture the most important thing about the festival: its transformative effect on all who were there. To this day the original is regarded as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome among people, showing them living happy and in peace among each other.


The Woodstock Festival provides examples of:


The Wizard of GoreFilms of the 1970sThe Abominable Dr. Phibes
The Wizard of OzRoger Ebert Great Movies ListW.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
The Wild BunchCreator/Warner Bros.The World According To Garp
M*A*S*HNational Film RegistryThe Outlaw Josey Wales

alternative title(s): Woodstock
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