Woodstock (1970)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts  |   Run Time - 230 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Woodstock set the standard for all rockumentaries to come. Sensing that the 1969 Woodstock concert would be something more than a mere "happening", director Michael Wadleigh brought along a battalion of cinematographers and assistants. As a result, what could have been an aloof, detached record of the landmark concert is as "up close and personal" as it was possible to get without actually being there. Utilizing widescreen, splitscreen, and stereo-sound technology to the utmost, Wadleigh puts us right in the middle of the 400,000 screaming, mud-caked spectators, then zooms in to loving closeups of the stars. Edited by Martin Scorsese (among many others), the finished product won the 1970 Oscar for Best Documentary -- and was also stamped with an "R" rating due to some innocuous (by modern standards) nudity and profanity. The talent lineup includes Canned Heat, Richie Havens, Country Joe and the Fish, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastian, Sly and the Family Stone, Ten Years After and Sha Na Na. The original 184 minute running time was expanded to 224 minutes for the 1994 video version, featuring previously excised footage of Janis Joplin. One of the best shots in Woodstock has no music at all: the final image, as a group of dour policemen survey the garbage and debris left behind by the Woodstock Naton.