Monterey Pop is a 1968 film directed by D.A. Pennebaker.
It is a documentary of the famous Monterey Pop festival, held June 16-18 1967, Monterey, CA. The staggering amount of talent appearing in the film includes Janis Joplin, The Animals, Ravi Shankar, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding (who died in a plane crash six months after the festival and before the film was released), and Simon & Garfunkel. The Mamas & the Papas, who organized the festival, appear twice.note
Pennebaker presents his film in the fly-on-the-wall documentary style that he used for previous films such as Don't Look Back, so the film lacks many documentary trappings such as The Ken Burns Effect. Veteran documentarians such as Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) served as cameramen.
- Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits are written by hand on the screen, complete with Line Boil.
- The Cameo
- Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, wearing a Native American headdress for some reason, can be seen at the end of the movie as one of the many people goggling at Ravi Shankar's performance.
- You can also see Hendrix in the audience, listening very carefully.
- Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones is caught on camera wandering around the crowd.
- The performance by The Byrds was not included in the film, but David Crosby appears in one of the first shots of the movie, performing a sound check. He is visibly impressed by the sound system.
- Concert Film: One of the most famous concert films ever made.
- Cover Version: Several of the songs performed. The Animals cover "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin sings old blues song "Ball and Chain", and Jimi Hendrix covers "Wild Thing" by The Troggs.
- Epic Rocking
- Janis Joplin, appearing with Big Brother and the Holding Company, absolutely crushes a performance of "Ball and Chain". Her performance in this festival turned out to be Joplin's star-making moment. At one point the camera cuts to Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas, in the audience, staring up at Joplin in open-mouthed astonishment.
- The film ends with a very long performance of "Dhun: Dadhra and Fast Teental"note by Ravi Shankar on the sitar, one that might lead a viewer to wonder how anybody could play the sitar that vigorously for that long without their fingers bleeding. This was actually the finale to their four-hour recital. Once they finally finish, the crowd goes bananas.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: One woman in the audience has a monkey sitting on her shoulders. The monkey has the word "LOVE" painted on its brow, because why not?
- Hard-Work Montage: Starts with a montage of workers constructing the set and set decorations, as well as John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas working the phones arranging for acts.
- Lens Flare: A lot of this during Otis Redding's performance, as he is positioned directly between a spotlight and the camera.
- Male Gaze: One shot has a cameraman pointing his camera straight down the cleavage of a young woman sitting on the ground. She notices, gives the cameraman a bored, contemptuous glance, then continues her conversation.
- Rockers Smash Guitars: Pete Townsend of The Who, probably the Trope Codifier, does indeed smash his guitar to pieces. Jimi Hendrix, not to be outdone, plays his guitar with his teeth, attempts sexual congress with an amplifier, and then lights his guitar on fire before smashing it to splinters as well.
- Round Hippie Shades: They really were the fashion in 1967 and can be seen on many hippies in the audience.
- Talking Heads: Pennebaker eschewed interviews of the performers, but he does interview a few members of the audience, as well as a woman who was busy cleaning all the seats.