Fresh look in 'Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation'
Michael Wadleigh’s epic, immersive, and still stirring 1970 documentary “Woodstock” remains the definitive account of the “Three Days of Peace, Love and Music” that went down in upstate New York in the summer of 1969. While that picture has a well- deserved rep as a fantastic concert film, it’s also a first-rate piece of contemporary reportage.
“Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation,” directed by Barak Goodman, uses the perspective of nearly 50 years’ hindsight to demonstrate anew how the festival was both a mess and a miracle, and implicitly argues that it was a good deal more miracle than mess.
The movie is all archival footage, no talking heads. Attendees both famous (David Crosby, for instance) and not contribute commentary and anecdotes off screen.
The heroes here include Max Yasgur, the dairy farmer who let the festival organizers use his land, which got pretty torn up.
Then there’s the singer Richie Havens, who, having been practically cornered into opening the show, delivered a transcendent set.
Finally, the residents of nearby White Lake chipped in, donating supplies from their own pantries when the going got tougher. “Kids are hungry, you gotta feed them,” one says.
The “love thy neighbor” ethos behind that sentiment has been all but choked out of this country’s lingua franca. This movie will compel you to think about why that happened.