Photo Credit / PBS Films
Film Distribution / PBS Films
Runtime 96 minutes.
Woodstock was the idea of a couple of button-down, conservative looking young businessmen, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, just out of law school and playing with a band in the Village in ’66. Roberts had inherited $250,000 from his grandfather who had developed Polident and he and Rosenman had used the money to start a recording studio in Manhattan, called Media Sound.
Artie Kornfeld, a VP at Capital Records and Michael Land contacted them and said they wanted to put a studio in Woodstock because there were musicians in the area that could use it. They were both counter-culture types, which contrasted greatly with Roberts and Rosenman. They wanted a “shining place where you could go to and not feel that you were a misfit.”
This film starts three years before the concert and tells the story, first, of how they put the whole thing together (in a shockingly short period of time) and, second, archival films of how the concert proceeded.
Kornfeld and Lamb proposal to Roberts and Rosenman referenced an “opening day party” that would include musicians who lived in the area, like Bob Dylan, John Sebastian, and Tim Hardin, who would perform. Roberts and Rosenman suggested they skip the studio idea and put on a concert, opining, “We could make a fortune.” In late January of ’69 they shook hands and started formulating what Woodstock would be.
There are amazing aerial shots (some of which are mind-boggling) of the huge crowd of 400,000 young people who flooded into Bethel, NY for the concert and interviews with many of the people involved.
Directed by Barak Goodman and Jamila Ephron and written by Goodman and John Kleszy this is a fascinating tale with terrific photography. In my opinion it is far superior to the 1970 Oscar®-winning documentary because it tells the entire story and doesn’t spend so much time on the music, the majority of which was hard rock. There’s some music, but mostly it’s the tale of how it came to be, how it was put together, and how it didn’t turn out as its creators had intended.