New Documentary Explores the Origins of Woodstock

in Culture

50 years after nearly a half million people descended on a New York dairy farm for the three-day Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, the event has taken on a near-mythical place in our collective imagination, one that’s rooted far more in nostalgia than reality. Creating Woodstock is a feature-length documentary that goes beyond the overly-enchanted impressions the festival has garnered over the years, examining some of the less glamorous aspects of the monumental happening that nonetheless remains the defining event of a generation.

A drummer and Woodstock attendee, Emmy Award-winning TV producer Mick Richards wrote and directed the film. The story unfolds through rare archival material and three decades’ worth of interviews with the organizers, many who have since passed away. Judging by the models of the computers in the interviews, a lot of the recordings are on the older side, which makes the film feel as though it’s been around awhile, even though it’s only being released now. There’s also a lot of talking, which makes it more likely to appeal to die-hard music-industry geeks and rock historians than the average layperson. It almost feels like Creating Woodstock is pieced together from the recollections and reminiscences of wistful relatives who are continuously reliving the 72 hours between August 15-17, 1969. Still, what they have to say is interesting.

John Sebastian at the 1969 Woodstock Festival/ © Henry Diltz Spoiler alert: By all accounts, Woodstock had all the defining characteristics of a potential disaster. The organizers had trouble securing a venue until Max and Miriam Yasgur offered their property. Then, with barely a month at their disposal, roughly a thousand people hurriedly worked on the festival’s infrastructure—preparing roads, digging wells, and installing electricity. Most days, it rained.

Originally intended only for about 20,000 people, Woodstock eventually required 500-plus acres …

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Author: Tanja M. Laden / High Times

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