“In August 1969, 500,000 people gathered at a farm in upstate New York. What happened there was far more than just a concert. Woodstock tells the story of a legendary event that defined a generation through the voices of those who were there.”

Directors: Jamila Ephron, Barak Goodman
Writers: Barak Goodman, Don Kleszy
Release Date: April 28, 2019

With all the rage over Netflix’s Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 three-part documentary special, and having watched Woodstock 99: Peace Love And Rage (2021 on HBO Max last year, I wanted a little taste of what the inspiration for the horror was really like. I wanted to know what Woodstock 1969 was all about. What was is the love, peace and community feeling that everyone was trying to recapture on the old airport tarmac in York, NY?

This PBS produced documentary has a remarkable amount of archival footage and does an incredible job of setting the scene for when this musical festival was taking place. There are no voiceovers in this movie, but we also don’t see many of the interviewees either. It is all about people who were there or directly involved telling their stories and illustrating the connective tissue that was present among all the attendees.

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation doesn’t put too much focus on the music, the politics or the community. It is a tripod of importance and each leg gets its time to shine in the spotlight. How Woodstock came to be is fascinating, and the switching of venues last minute and true sacrifice of Max Yasgur’s and his land has to make him a cult hero forever. He leant out his land for this cultural moment, was made an outcast in his own community, eventually settled and got money for his damages and moved to Florida. He died just four years after the music festival, but he left an indelible mark forever.

If you are a fan of music and a fan festival life styles, then this documentary will have you singing along with the crazy amount of hits. Personally, I am not a music guy but the music in this movie can’t not leave an indent in your soul. That is where the directing of Jamila Ephron and Barak Goodman is so important because they attach the significance of the music to the actual chords being played.

Woodstock, the 1969 version, is maybe the greatest example of a group of people agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable. All 500,000 people who attended this music festival disagreed with the elder generation but rather than fight back with fighting words or anything physical, the just decide to vibe out and enjoy what they have in common. Can you imagine if we did that now? Is that even possible? Can people agree to disagree and let people go along their lives?

One of the directors Barak Goodman has been nominated for an Academy Award before back in 2001 with the Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (2000). That movie was about nine young black men who were arrested, tried and convicted of raping two white women despite overwhelming proof of innocence. Not as kind of a subject matter, but still it appears that Goodman has a propensity for choosing big social moments. Scottsboro has a crazy cast,; Frances McDormand, Stanley Tucci and Andre Braugher leant their talents in some capacity.

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation is only on Amazon Prime till the end of the month, but it is worth checking out even if you have to rent it. This is a snapshot of a different type of music festival, meaning one that went off “fairly” well without too much outward drama or circumstance.

Watch the the documentary and enjoy the experience. Learn something, vibe out too some tunes, and learn what it was that made the original Woodstock so unique and unrepeatable.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

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