New Documentary Explores the Origins of the Woodstock

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50 years soon after practically a half million folks descended on a New York dairy farm for the 3-day Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, the occasion has taken on a close to-mythical location in our collective imagination, 1 that is rooted far much more in nostalgia than reality. Building Woodstock is a function-length documentary that goes beyond the overly-enchanted impressions the festival has garnered more than the years, examining some of the significantly less glamorous elements of the monumental taking place that nonetheless remains the defining occasion of a generation.

A drummer and Woodstock attendee, Emmy Award-winning Television producer Mick Richards wrote and directed the film. The story unfolds by way of uncommon archival material and 3 decades’ worth of interviews with the organizers, lots of who have due to the fact passed away. Judging by the models of the computer systems in the interviews, a lot of the recordings are on the older side, which tends to make the film really feel as although it is been about awhile, even although it is only getting released now. There’s also a lot of speaking, which tends to make it much more most likely to appeal to die-difficult music-market geeks and rock historians than the typical layperson. It pretty much feels like Building Woodstock is pieced with each other from the recollections and reminiscences of wistful relatives who are constantly reliving the 72 hours involving August 15-17, 1969. Nevertheless, what they have to say is fascinating.

John Sebastian at the 1969 Woodstock Festival/ © Henry Diltz

Spoiler alert: By all accounts, Woodstock had all the defining traits of a possible disaster. The organizers had difficulty securing a venue till Max and Miriam Yasgur supplied their house. Then, with barely a month at their disposal, roughly a thousand folks hurriedly worked on the festival’s infrastructure—preparing roads, digging wells, and installing electrical energy. Most days, it rained.

Initially intended only for about 20,000 folks, Woodstock ultimately needed 500-plus acres for parking alone. Hundreds of thousands of audience members braved 20-mile targeted traffic jams and a 5-mile hike just to arrive to the festival, which lawmakers threatened to shut down by sending in the National Guard.

Richie Havens at the 1969 Woodstock Festival/ © Henry Diltz

Ultimately, the organizers pulled it off. The permit came by way of only hours ahead of the occasion officially started, and although a wellness inspector was named to the scene, for the reason that he brought his 15-year-old daughter who promptly disappeared, he went seeking for her more than the course of 3 days and never ever got about to inspecting.

Dollars is 1 of Building Woodstock‘s recurring themes. Due to the fact the spirit was 1 of good power and goodwill, the festival went from getting a ticketed festival to a totally free occasion. Even so, the film reveals that the Who wouldn’t play onstage till they got paid in money, and at $35,000, Jimi Hendrix was the highest paid act, although he had difficulty having in. The rain fell and the stage began to slide down the hill, but Hendrix continued playing into the morning soon after what was supposed to be the finish of the festival.

A view from the stage of Woodstock, 1969/ © Henry Diltz

Building Woodstock does not finish there. Interviewees appear back on the aftermath as properly, like the huge cleanup work, the dicey finances, the “tremendous smell,” and even a dead physique or two.

Although it is really a great deal a behind-the-scenes appear at the festival, Building Woodstock is complete of fascinating tidbits that make for worthwhile viewing. Plus now, a half century later, Woodstock’s function in American history is even much more apparent, and therein lies the actual worth of the film. As Arlo Guthrie says in the documentary, “It’s a singular occasion in history.”

The aftermath of the original Woodstock Festival, 1969/ © Henry Diltz



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