Woodstock Scholarship: An Interdisciplinary Annotated Bibliography/Film
- Biskind, Peter. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘n’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
- Brode, Douglas. From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2004.
Uses the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as an allegorical reference to the 1960s counterculture representing an end product of American youth raised on Disney films. Admits this runs counter to the conventional wisdom of Disney projects avoiding controversy in exchange for commercial gain. Posits Disney films taught the youth of America to worship Plato’s “Good” and this was manifested in the behaviors of Woodstock attendees. Provides a textual analysis of specific Disney films, suggests an oeuvre expressing “the single imagination of the auteur,” and conducts a socio-political evaluation of the oeuvre within a historical context. Shows how Disney films introduced themes which later came to define the counterculture, such as pacifism and “return to nature” virtues.
- Cagin, Seth, and Philip Dray. Hollywood Films of the Seventies: Sex, Drugs, Violence, Rock ‘n’ Roll & Politics. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.
Discusses, in part, the motion picture Woodstock as being “profoundly ambivalent, containing hints of dark pessimism buried within its professed ethos of affirmation.” Questions whether the film, along with other similar “youth-cult” cinema such as Gimme Shelter, Easy Rider and Zabriskie Point, turned sentimental nostalgia into a marketing concept. Explores the behind-the-scenes murky acquisition of film rights for Woodstock and the machinations of obtaining a suitable Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating for the movie. Covers other controversies associated with Woodstock, mainly focusing on issues of commercial exploitation. Continues by noting all of this became “overshadowed by the blast of moral indignation” with the release of the motion picture Gimme Shelter by the Maysles brothers.
- Denisoff, R. Serge, and William D. Romanowski. Risky Business: Rock in Film. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1991.
Discusses “rockumentaries” (rock music film documentaries), from The T.A.M.I. Show through Imagine: John Lennon. Offers insight into the particular business deal that resulted ultimately in the motion picture Woodstock. Comments on the critical and financial success of the film. Provides a history of the movie’s commercial life. Contrasts the film with the motion picture Gimme Shelter. Includes commentary on other motion pictures such as Monterey Pop, Let It Be, The Concert for Bangla Desh, Stop Making Sense, and Rattle and Hum.
- Friedman, Lawrence S. The Cinema of Martin Scorsese. New York: Continuum, 1997.
Chronicles the career of Martin Scorsese. Refers to the motion picture Woodstock as “arguably the greatest concert film ever made.” States the movie’s director, Michael Wadleigh, hired Scorsese as an assistant director and supervising editor. Claims the technical accomplishments of the film have been mostly ignored. Suggests the real success of the movie is due to Scorsese’s editing. Lists the “brilliantly edited sequences” as being those performances by Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Demonstrates the high quality editing skills of Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker by citing as contrast the mostly unedited Jimi Hendrix sequence added to the “director’s cut” version of the film.
- Grant, Barry Keith. The Hollywood Film Musical. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
Presents first a “concise history of the genre and an overview of the critical debates about” film musicals. Offers both historical and critical overviews, followed by chapters devoted to the analysis of specific movies. Includes an in depth examination of the motion picture Woodstock. Notes the film was edited using 1,210 hours of footage. States documentaries are constructed representations and, therefore, claims Woodstock is not simply a random assemblage of scenes but rather a depiction of “the musical expression of the counter-culture’s rejection of middle-class values and lifestyle in favor of a more open and accepting society.” Observes how the film “builds a sense of community through a resistance to the Vietnam War,” celebrates sexual liberation, and creates unity in the face of, literally, a gathering storm. Comments on how, at the same time, the filmmakers seem aware the festival’s “utopian community was an ephemeral achievement” and not possible to perpetuate.
- Kato, M. T. From Kung Fu to Hip Hop: Globalization, Revolution, and Popular Culture. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007.
Observes the motion picture Woodstock not only captured the performances of musicians, but also “captured the cultural milieu” of the youth movement unfolding with the event. Asserts the film also attempted to contain symbolically the counterculture movement, best represented in the portrayal of Jimi Hendrix’s performance. Claims Hendrix’s use of a new band at the festival, musicians specifically selected for freestyle jamming, was a “sincere tribute to the original motive and intent of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.” Believes Hendrix’s performance of The Star Spangled Banner “offered a concrete reference point to which the totality of Woodstock was dedicated and upon which the counterculture as a whole was founded.” States the way in which Hendrix’s set was filmed and edited for the motion picture, essentially excluding the other members of the band and the audience, was “meant to be a eulogy for the rebellious souls of the counterculture.” Suggests the “politics of cinematography” deployed in the film was a corporate strategy intent on containing the counterculture in a specific time and place.
- Kellner, Douglas. Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics between the Modern and the Postmodern. London: Routledge, 1995. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203205808
Proclaims “a media culture has emerged in which images, sounds, and spectacles” shape political views and social behaviors, thus helping create identity. Explores the consequences of media colonization. Contends the motion pictures Easy Rider and Woodstock “transcoded the sixties discourses.” Claims the latter film provided “figural action” showing musicians as cultural heroes, promoters as benevolent benefactors, and audience as counterculture participants. Suggests these two motion pictures reduced 1960s political activism to cultural style which in turn made it easy to co-opt and exploit the counterculture, eventually leading to its demise.
- King, Claire Sisco. Washed in Blood: Male Sacrifice, Trauma, and the Cinema. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.
Studies the “logic of traumatic heroism” within the cultural context of motion pictures. Discusses the film Omega Man and its use of a character watching the movie Woodstock as “offering ethical imperatives and political critiques specific to its historical context.” Suggests the character’s viewing of Woodstock represents “the countercultural rejection of the hegemonic masculine attitudes that celebrate violence and war-making” in favor of gentleness.
- Leff, Leonard J., and Jerold L. Simmons. The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship and the Production Code. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
Presents the history of motion picture ratings and censorship. Mentions succinctly a debate over which rating to assign to the film Woodstock, “R” versus “PG.” Implies the deciding factor was the repeated use of the word “fuck” during “The Fish Cheer” by Country Joe McDonald.
- Marcus, Greil. In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music 1977–1992. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Notes in brief the “imaginative camera work and editing” on “nine otherwise-unlistenable minutes” of the performance by Ten Years After in the motion picture Woodstock. Compares this to the motion picture No Nukes in which there is a noticeable lack of creative filmmaking.
- McElhaney, Joe. Albert Maysles. Ed. James Naremore. Contemporary Film Directors. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
Examines the documentary film work of Albert Maysles. Compares and contrasts the motion picture Woodstock with Maysles’s film Gimme Shelter documenting the disastrous Altamont Speedway concert. Describes Woodstock as reinforcing the concept of the festival as having been “part of the natural world that surrounds it rather than an intrusion.” The politeness of Woodstock participants is emphasized, thus insinuating the counterculture coexists with mainstream culture, rather than in opposition to it. Claims Gimme Shelter presents the youth culture lacking utopian wonder. Observes nudity and sexuality, as representations of nature or being natural, are portrayed in Gimme Shelter as uncontrolled animal disorder. Suggests the Maysles film presents audience members dancing using variable camera speeds in order to “giving the dances a strange, unnatural rhythm and movement.” Includes a filmography.
- Monaco, James. American Film Now: The People, the Power, the Money, the Movies. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
Provides wide-ranging insight into multiple aspects of the movie-making industry. Credits Martin Scorsese as the real creative force behind the motion picture Woodstock. Claims it was one thing to shoot an overwhelming amount of footage, but it took talent to give it shape and pace within an acceptable running time. Asserts the film is “one of the most notable models of the craft of editing since the Steenbeck editing table was invented.”
- Raymond, Marc. Hollywood’s New Yorker: The Making of Martin Scorsese. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2013.
Analyzes Martin Scorsese’s role in the culture of motion pictures. Inspects concisely Martin Scorsese’s degree of involvement with the making of the film Woodstock. Reports Scorsese was an assistant director for the shoot and then worked on editing the movie. Notes some think he was apathetic to the counterculture ethos, thus allowing him a certain amount of “personal indifference.” Counters others consider his work on the film to be political. Suggests attributing too much of the film’s success to Scorsese is “flawed and yet unfortunately common auteurist logic” in which the criterion for a film being labeled authentic art is how the maker “must be deemed worthy” (as Scorsese’s post-Woodstock career attests). Asserts “the question of who the authentic artist actually is assumes greater importance, even within obviously collective activity, for if one is not an artist, one is simply personnel.”
- Woodstock: An Inside Look at the Movie that Shook Up the World and Defined a Generation. Ed. Dale Bell. Studio City, CA: Michael Wise, 1999.
Provides detailed insight into the making of the motion picture Woodstock using a large collection of brief interviews and essays by those involved and by some of the artists captured in the film. Contains sixty-nine chapters by thirty-nine contributors compiled into a “cinéma verité book.” Discusses every aspect of the festival, post-production on the movie, and the social and artistic impact. Describes how the film crew was pulled together. Explains the innovations required in order to fulfill the vision of the filmmakers. Offers perceptions on the sometimes difficult working relationship with Warner Bros. Studio during post-production. Communicates the political environment during the screening at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival in light of the Kent State shootings. Includes a foreword by Martin Scorsese, a “where are they now” section, and numerous black and white photographs.
Offers a history on the coming of age of the counterculture’s most prominent filmmakers. Covers all the major players and their contributions. Includes Fred Weintraub recalling briefly how he managed to get the motion picture Woodstock produced in an era when most, if not all, rock concert films had been less than successful. Notes as a result Weintraub became “the executive in charge of alternative lifestyles” at Warner Bros.
- Arnold, Gina. “Nobody’s Army: Contradictory Cultural Rhetoric in Woodstock and Gimme Shelter.” Countercultures and Popular Music. Eds. Sheila Whiteley and Jedediah Sklower. Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2014. 123–137. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315574479 https://ia800205.us.archive.org/17/items/Countercultures_and_Popular_Music_by_Jedediah_Sklower_Sheila_Whiteley/Countercultures_and_Popular_Music_by_Jedediah_Sklower_Sheila_Whiteley.pdf
- Baker, Michael Brendan. “Martin Scorsese and the Music Documentary.” A Companion to Martin Scorsese. Ed. Aaron Baker. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. 239–258. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118585344.ch11
Explores Martin Scorsese’s relationship to rock music as expressed in his documentaries. Examines the evolution of rockumentaries, starting with the T.A.M.I. Show (1965). Claims the motion picture Woodstock “enshrined the North American counterculture of the 1960s.” Notes a major significance of Woodstock is the way in which it highlights the audience as an essential element of the documented experience. Offers Scorsese’s contributions and efforts in making Woodstock established his “imprint on the rockumentary genre.” Focuses on Scorsese’s role as assistant director, his work on capturing the stage performances, and the use of split-screen to portray audience reactions. Continues with discussions of other Scorsese motion picture documentaries, including The Last Waltz (featuring The Band), No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, and Shine a Light (featuring The Rolling Stones). States Scorsese was central to the formation of the rockumentary genre, especially its form and structure.
- Barsam, Richard M. “The New Nonfiction Film: 1960–1970.” Nonfiction Film: A Critical History. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973. 247–295.
Writes on the resurgence of nonfiction film production during the 1960s. Asserts the motion pictures Woodstock and Gimme Shelter are juxtaposed in the culture of rock music festivals, in their symbolism of the 1960s counterculture, and in approaches to filmmaking. States the former represents “love, music, and fun” while the latter conveys “hate, music, and horror.” Claims Woodstock is a subjective documentary and Gimme Shelter “comes as close to pure nonfiction film as any film has.” Notes Woodstock has uneven quality of footage, varying greatly from performer to performer. Observes Woodstock is more commercially oriented in its presentation than Gimme Shelter. Concludes the success of these two motion pictures created increased support for nonfiction film projects.
- Bennett, Andy. “Everybody’s Happy, Everybody’s Free: Representation and Nostalgia in the Woodstock Film.” Remembering Woodstock. Ed. Andy Bennett. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2004. 43–54.
Evaluates the significance of the motion picture Woodstock as not only a documentation of the festival, but also as a production of nostalgia. Begins with a brief description of the loose and challenging way in which the event was captured on film. Discusses how editing, sequencing scenes, and the use of split-screen removes selected actual events from their original context and makes them iconic in shaping perceptions and recollections of the festival. Explores how rock music by the late 1960s had come to represent the counterculture ethos of community between musician and audience, but in reality was a business firmly grounded in capitalism. Traces the evolution into mythology of an idealized vision of the counterculture as presented in the film Woodstock which now serves as a nostalgia trigger for an idealized time that never existed in reality. Offers that the “film continuously plays down the mundane in favour of the spectacular” resulting in the representation of the festival as a pinnacle statement on 1960s’ counterculture.
- Ebert, Roger. “Woodstock.” Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. 267–271. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226182063.001.0001
Reviews (from May 3, 1970) the motion picture Woodstock. Asserts the film “may be the best documentary ever made in America.” States this documentary is more than a movie on rock music; it is an “archeological study” on a briefly formed civilization. Claims the film is remarkable because in conveys realistically the experience of having been at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Comments on the editorial skill of providing an objective, if not neutral, perspective on the event. Notes Woodstock captures the musician/audience inter-participation of the performances. Reveals being moved by Joan Baez’s set. Marvels at the film capturing and presenting a folk singer’s act (Richie Havens) just as powerfully as any of those by the rock groups. Suggests the use of split screen is more successful in this film than others because it is used to advance the narrative.
- Edgar, Robert, Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, and Benjamin Halligan. “Music Seen: The Formats and Functions of the Music Documentary.” The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop. Eds. Robert Edgar, Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, and Benjamin Halligan. New York: Routledge, 2013. 1–21. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203118689
Focuses on the transformative arrival of music videos intended for television audiences. Notes that the Woodstock film and others of the same period were essentially documenting musical events with “the cameras engaged in reportage, the musicians primarily engaged in the live delivery of their music.” The premise of these films being one of “an active and nuanced dialogue between performances and audiences.” Claims that in the video age image comes before the music. Continues the discussion by noting a hybrid evolution throughout the 1980s to a preference for more stylized live performances and then on to the cult of celebrity. States contemporary music documentaries help create a “celebrity/star brand” by offering a presentation of “manufactured authenticity.” Concludes by noting the music documentary “persists as both an index of, and access to, the certainties and the vagaries of popular culture.”
- MacDonald, Stephen. “Woodstock: One for the Money.” The Documentary Tradition: From Nanook to Woodstock. Ed. Lewis Jacobs. New York: Hopkinson and Blake, 1971. 492–493.
Reprints an article from The Wall Street Journal (March 27, 1970) commenting on the motion picture Woodstock. Notes the apparent purpose of the film is to celebrate, rather than examine, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Observes the vignettes of the attendees (e.g., dancing and skinny-dipping) make the event seem very appealing, but the interviews are disturbing. Claims attendees come across as “wholly inarticulate.” Notes the local citizens are portrayed as being “quaint old squares.” Concludes by noting how the film highlights the one thing proven by the festival, which is the “commercially exploitable” nature of the counterculture.
- Niemi, Robert. “Music History on Film and Television: Woodstock (1970).” History in the Media: Film and Television. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006. 258–260.
Expresses some distain for the motion picture Woodstock, describing it as “a sprawling, overlong mess, exciting and boring by turns.” Comments that the film was not intended to simply document the event, but to “celebrate the hippie/counterculture in all its supposed peace-loving, sensuous, gaudy vibrancy.” Suggests by the time the film was released in 1970 the “hippie ethos had already died” citing as evidence the Manson murders and the violent Altamont Speedway concert. Includes a reproduction of a poster promoting the event, not the film.
- Romberg, Chris, and Keith Roberts Sargent. “Interview with Jimi Hendrix.” Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix. Ed. Steven Roby. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012. 309–316.
Transcribes an interview from the Armed Forces Radio Network (September 1970) in which Hendrix is asked to comment on his appearance in the motion picture Woodstock and especially on his performance of The Star Spangled Banner in the film. Hendrix’s responses are mostly evasive.
- Saffle, Michael. “Retrospective Compilations: (Re)Defining the Music Documentary.” The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop. Eds. Robert Edgar, Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, and Benjamin Halligan. New York: Routledge, 2013. 42–54. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203118689
Evaluates music documentaries “in terms of accessibility, authenticity, film history, media issues, musical styles, and political-social-cultural goals ranging from avant-garde experimentation to postmodern infotainment.” Points to the motion picture Woodstock as an example of how music documentaries tend to be about contemporary events and not as retrospective as other documentaries. At the time of its original release, Woodstock reported on a still current newsworthy event. Commenting on the 1994 and 2009 re-releases of Woodstock, with much more footage added each time, the author offers the film as an example of a remade documentary. Notes Woodstock contains footage of the photographers and interviewers, thus making the film a “simultaneously informative and entertaining, authentic and self-consciously arch.”
- Saunders, Dave. “In Search of Elysium.” Direct Cinema: Observational Documentary and the Politics of the Sixties. London: Wallflower Press, 2007. 99–125.
Examines American cinema verite of the 1960s for its richness in “subjective creativity and discursive potency.” Provides the context of the Vietnam War and associated domestic political unrest in order to introduce a discussion on the motion picture Woodstock. Mentions filmmaker Michael Wadleigh’s financial incentives for his crew if the film were to be successful. Analyzes in detail the movie, scene by scene, from the pastoral views of readying the site and the audience’s arrival through the selected performances portrayed on the screen to the final set by Jimi Hendrix, suggesting his articulation of The Star Spangled Banner represented the counterculture deconstructing itself. Concludes the film’s theme is “all this fleeting happiness is bought at a price to our conscience and morals.”
- Wright, Julie Lobalzo. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ‘60s: The Opposing Gazes of Woodstock and Gimme Shelter.” The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop. Eds. Robert Edgar, Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, and Benjamin Halligan. New York: Routledge, 2013. 71–86. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203118689
Compares and contrasts two documentary motion pictures, Woodstock (Woodstock Music and Art Fair) and Gimme Shelter (Altamont Speedway concert). Offers the former as the “zenith of the counterculture movement” and the latter as “its violent end.” Contends these two films “helped shape both the ‘Direct Cinema’ movement and the ‘rockumentary’ genre.” Draws the distinction of “communal gaze” (Woodstock) and “disconnecting gaze” (Gimme Shelter). Examines the two films from three perspectives: setting, crowd, and performances. Woodstock creates a setting with scenes of open, green fields thus establishing the “environment as idyllic, peaceful, and agrarian.” The crowd shots are expansive and portray a sense of community. The performances shown on screen emphasize collaboration with the audience using wide frame shots of people clapping to the music and dancing. Gimme Shelter makes heavy use of tightly framed shots for the setting, the crowd, and the performances, thus evoking claustrophobia and individualism. Claims memories of the events captured in the two films have been “shaped by the nature of these aesthetic strategies.” States it is important to acknowledge the film texts are presented with intention.
Investigates “the genesis of the powerlessness and lack of direction that rock crowds represent.” Looks at the motion pictures Woodstock and Gimme Shelter as sources of rhetoric which create a misperception of concert audiences being rebellious when, in fact, they are “largely docile, passive and conservative.” Offers these two films, one documenting 1969’s Woodstock Music and Art Fair (Woodstock) and the other the Altamont Speedway concert (Gimme Shelter), serve to reinforce notions of democracy and capitalism. Argues Woodstock does not document an event, such as newsreel might, but instead creates a narrative and an ideology. Explores the notion of duality represented by means of the film, citing examples of such concepts as conventional versus unconventional and technology versus nature. Claims the Gimme Shelter uses similar rhetoric strategies as Woodstock. Concludes both films portray the relationship between promoters/musicians/vendors and consumers in such a way as to create the moral acceptance of the market economy within the youth culture. Notes the films also establish as a commodity the intangibleness of an experience.
- Barron, Arthur. “Ken Edwards Memorial Address.” Journal of the University Film Association 21.3 (1969): 77–80.
- Bodroghkozy, Aniko. “Reel Revolutionaries: An Examination of Hollywood’s Cycle of 1960s Youth Rebellion Films.” Cinema Journal 41.3 (2002): 38–58. https://doi.org/10.1353/cj.2002.0007 http://www.asu.edu/courses/fms394/readings-biddinger/L6 bodroghkozy.rebellionfilms.pdf
Dissects attempts by Hollywood studios to lure youth audiences during the late 1960s and early 1970s by using films about political activism and youth protest. Includes unfavorable responses to these actions as reflected in underground newspapers. Observes Hollywood’s “schizophrenic” attempts to negotiate ideologies when marketing to the youth culture. Notes the reaction to the film Woodstock was less critical since it was regarded as a documentary and, therefore, considered less contrived. However, criticism erupted over the marketing of the film because of the “blatant example of cooptation” for purposes of commercialization. Describes how successful pickets and boycotts were organized and the related consequences for both the establishment and the underground press.
- Costello, Donald P. “From Counterculture to Anticulture.” The Review of Politics 34.4 (1972): 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0034670500021586
Claims three motion pictures both define and become participants of the 1960s counterculture: Woodstock, Easy Rider, and A Clockwork Orange. Suggests the movie Woodstock defined the counterculture by means of allowing the masses to experience the festival through “exploiting sights and sounds to a hyperrealism,” thus providing both an ordered and intentionally chaotic perfection to the event. Observes 1960s culture was mostly communicated through sights and sounds rather than articulated through words. Offers as proof the film Woodstock as “perhaps the most verbally inarticulate film ever made.” Continues by arguing Woodstock represents past values, Easy Rider deals with present [at the time this article was written] values, and A Clockwork Orange provides a glimpse of future values.
- Goldstone, Bobbie. “Culture Vulture: Woodstock.” Off Our Backs 1.6 (1970): 14.
Comments on the motion picture Woodstock from a feminist perspective. Observes that when viewing the film, one is aware of being manipulated into “responding in a pre-determined way to a pre-determined set of feelings and emotions.” Comments on the portrayal of sex roles, with a focus on the way in which male sex objects are represented in film.
- Kitts, Thomas M. “Documenting, Creating, and Interpreting Moments of Definition: ‘Monterey Pop,’ ‘Woodstock,’ and ‘Gimme Shelter’.” Journal of Popular Culture 42.4 (2009): 715–732. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2009.00704.x
Demonstrates the ways in which the filmmakers of Monterey Pop (D. A. Pennebaker), Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh), and Gimme Shelter (Maysles brothers) edited their films to “document, create, interpret, and preserve” the mythologies associated with each music festival. Pennebaker celebrated the romantic, free-spirit, and innocence of the summer of 1967. Wadleigh revealed the tensions, contradictions, and ambiguities happening at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969. Observes the Woodstock festival was a “very complex event with many nuanced, disconnected, and sometimes disparate occurrences.” The motion picture Woodstock articulates this complexity and as a result both subverts and creates the Woodstock myth. Claims the Maysles brothers played upon the audiences’ knowledge of the terrible events that occurred at the Altamont Speedway concert in late 1969 in order to “create the same sense of inexorable doom of a Greek tragedy.” Views the three films as a trilogy, with an increasing presence of the filmmakers on the screen thus reflecting the changing culture towards the individual and away from the communal. Asserts when taken as a trilogy the films “provide an interpretive history of the rise and decline of the Sixties’ counterculture spirit.”
- La Rosa, Melanie. “Early Video Pioneer: An Interview with Skip Blumberg.” Journal of Film and Video 64.1–2 (2012): 30–41. https://doi.org/10.5406/jfilmvideo.64.1-2.0030
Interviews Skip Blumberg, a notable individual in the development of video documentary and experimental films. Responds to a question about the ways in which early video is now being utilized by referring to the Videofreex tapes made at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. States these videos are “a detailed slice of what was happening behind the scenes” as opposed to the editorialized record of the motion picture Woodstock. Notes this unedited footage is being screened and appreciated for “the fresh and direct real-time experience” provided to the audience.
- Messenger, Cory. “Record Collectors: Hollywood Record Labels in the 1950s and 1960s.” Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy 148 (2013): 118–126.
Examines the evolution of film and music synergy which “transformed the marketing of recorded music, sparking a period of unprecedented commercial success for the record industry in the late 1960s.” Presents the costs and profits behind both the motion picture Woodstock and the record album Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More. Notes the Woodstock festival “represented the culmination of Hollywood’s attempts to nurture a youth audience for film by drawing on methodologies developed within the rock music market.” States Warner Bros. demonstrated the potential of cross-marketing between the film and music industries with the result being an upheaval in the “conventional methodologies of entertainment industry practice.”
- Plasketes, George M. “Rock on Reel: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Culture in America Reflected in a Decade of ‘Rockumentaries’.” Qualitative Sociology 12.1 (1989): 55–71. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00989244
Analyzes the representation in motion pictures of American youth culture in the 1960s. Focuses on rockumentaries, including Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Gimme Shelter, and The Last Waltz. Explores “the ways in which popular film and music both reflect and define political and cultural movements” by means of “comparing and contrasting the plots and narrative techniques.” Claims the 1960s was a time in which rock music captured and presented an alternate social order. Describes the motion picture Woodstock as resembling a romantic comedy. Observes the film “leaves the underlying impression that it does not completely share the spirit of the festival” and it’s subjectivism lands somewhere between approval and criticism. Concludes with remarks on the evolution of rockumentaries from an emphasis on music to visuals of the music videos in the 1980s, transforming a music culture into a visual culture.
- Reitinger, Douglas W. “Paint it Black: Rock Music and Vietnam War Film.” Journal of American Culture 15.3 (1992): 53–59. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1542-734x.1992.00053.x
Explores the use of rock music in Vietnam War films, specifically Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Introduces the article by contending the release of the motion picture Woodstock on two VHS videotapes altered the structure of the film “ultimately coloring any viewing or interpretation of it.” Observes the first of the two tapes presents optimism and progressive cooperation (e.g., relationship building among various stakeholders) while the second tape shows a movement towards disaster and disillusionment (e.g., lack of sanitation, bad weather). Claims Woodstock as presented “symbolically and structurally in the video presentation” parallels the history of rock music and, specifically, its “nearly inseparable relationship with the Vietnam conflict.”
- Saunders, Dave. “Which Garden? Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock:” Vertigo 3.5 (2007): 62–63. https://www.closeupfilmcentre.com/vertigo_magazine/volume-3-issue-5-spring-2007/which-garden-michael-wadleighs-woodstock/
Suggests a close examination of the motion picture Woodstock reveals more than a “finely composed memento” of the 1960s counterculture. Highlights the balanced perspective represented in the film such that “for every utopian bliss there is an equal and opposite moment of dystopian misery.” Notes the Woodstock festival only happened because of two catalysts: baby boomers and the Vietnam War. Contends the inherent theme of a fleeting idealized peacefulness marginalized by negative hedonism continues to be reinforced by anniversary concerts that “sully the dream.”
- Schowalter, Daniel F. “Remembering the Dangers of Rock and Roll: Toward a Historical Narrative of the Rock Festival.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 17.1 (2000): 86–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295030009388377
Highlights the 1970 motion pictures Woodstock and Gimme Shelter to be representative of a historical narrative potentially promoting rock music as dangerous to society. Claims the Woodstock film focuses on the effects of music on the audience as opposed to the music itself. Editorial decisions served to de-politicize the festival by means of how it is documented in the final edit of the film. Makes similar observations regarding the Gimme Shelter film in that it is edited to document an interpretation of the event, in this case with a focus on audience violence. Insists the rock music narrative presented in the two motion pictures is clear, “it is but a small step for an enraptured and passive mass influenced by the sinister invisibility of rock music to become a violent and anesthetized mob.” Introduces the motion picture Monterey Pop in order to expose the historical narrative of the other two motion pictures as being contrived because in its documenting of a music festival Monterey Pop focuses on the music as opposed to the effect on the audience. Concludes by warning viewers to be aware of the potential for documentaries to exploit representations and “inform political and moral argument.”
- Telotte, J. P. “Scorsese’s ‘The Last Waltz’ and the Concert Genre.” Film Criticism 4.2 (1980): 9–20.
Begins with a discussion of the movie musical genre and its inherent surrealism. Notes concert documentaries differ from other motion pictures within the genre because they show the natural world in which the music occurs. Points to both the films Woodstock and Gimme Shelter as being even further removed from the movie musical genre because “the activities of the concert-goers, the non-musical elements of the films, are given a heightened importance, effectively altering or enhancing our response to the music.” Discourses on the motion picture The Last Waltz and how Martin Scorsese altered his editorial style used previously on Woodstock by crafting a self-enclosed environment for The Band’s last concert. Notes that rather than providing cameras shots from the audience and thus providing the viewer “the usual identification mechanism, he shoots nearly all of the actual concert footage from onstage.”
- Westrup, Laurel. “Medias Martyrs? Rock ‘n’ Roll, Film and the Political Economy of Death.” Spectator 27 (2007): 33–41. https://cinema.usc.edu/assets/053/10907.pdf
Proposes the motion pictures Woodstock and Gimme Shelter (the infamous Altamont Speedway concert headlined by the Rolling Stones), both released in 1970 and each documenting a different 1969 rock concert, serve as “case studies that expose the role of death in the production, exhibition, and marketing of rock films.” Discusses both films and their often juxtaposed themes (one celebrating life, the other documenting death) in the context of what the author describes as “the political economy of death.” Analyzes various interpretations of the films as influenced by their marketing which has occurred over the years since they were first released.
Poses the question of relevance for filmmakers in light of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and “the profound revolution in life style and values.” Bases question on the author’s then recent experience at the festival. Speaks from the perspective of the film division of Columbia University. Categorizes motion pictures into three traditions: reporting, instructing, and “human revelation.” Calls for filmmakers to focus on human revelation in which the film experience is the focal point, rather than the informational content it may be conveying. Defines human revelation films as experimental, not didactic, and sharing the human experience on an emotional level. Reasons this will serve the purpose that all art serves which is to make the joy and grief of one comprehensible to all.
- Sobcynski, Peter. “Interview: Michael Wadleigh on ‘Woodstock’.” http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2774
Interviews director Michael Wadleigh regarding his making of the motion picture Woodstock. Describes the film as one of the greatest documentaries ever produced. Claims without the movie the actual festival would be long forgotten. Wadleigh talks about how his previous work on the origins of the American Communist Party in Woodstock, New York, led to his involvement with the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Articulates how it was decided which songs to film, given limited resources. Notes over 200 hours of footage were shot during the event. Asserts it is a myth some groups would not grant rights to be included in the motion picture and that the decisions on who to include were aesthetic. Concludes with Wadleigh explaining his lack of continued success as a filmmaker, noting his agenda was political and not artistic.
- Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music (the Director’s Cut). Dir. Wadleigh, Michael. Warner Home Video, 2009.
Documents to the fullest extent the entire three days of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Digitally remastered and includes two hours of never before seen footage, with five additional music acts (Paul Butterfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Mountain, Johnny Winter) not seen in any previous releases. Contains interviews with Michael Wadleigh (director), Martin Scorsese (editor), and Thelma Schoonmaker (editor). Maintains the frame mirroring, freeze frames, and multiple camera angles from the original 1970 theatrical release.