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Film / Monterey Pop

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Monterey Pop is a 1968 Concert Film directed by D. A. Pennebaker. It is a documentary of the famous Monterey International Pop Festival, which was held June 16–18, 1967 in Monterey, California.

A staggering amount of talent appears in the film including Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Animals, Ravi Shankar, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding (who died in an airplane crash six months after the festival and before the film was released), and Simon & Garfunkel. The Mamas & the Papas, whose leader John Phillips helped to organize the festival, appear twice.note 

Pennebaker employs the fly-on-the-wall documentary style that he used for such previous films as Don't Look Back, so the film lacks many typical documentary trappings like 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 audience members goggling at Ravi Shankar's performance.
    • You can also see Hendrix in the audience during Shankar's set, 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, Jefferson Airplane covers Judy Henske's "High Flying Bird", Janis Joplin sings Big Mama Thornton's "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 & 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 just the finale to a four-hour recital. Once he finally finishes, the crowd goes bananas.
  • Fanservice: Cartoonist Tomi Ungerer's original poster art for the film depicts a topless, micro-miniskirted young woman using an air-pump to pop a bunch of corks from a giant flower.
  • 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 & 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 Townshend of The Who, probably the Trope Codifier, does indeed smash his guitar. 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 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.