CAPSULE: I have to give a full disclosure here. I have never been a fan of rock music. In 1969 as well as now I would have preferred music by Puccini. I still do not find rock music melodious. But that is why I like this film. It is not about the music; it is about how a group of unprepared people produced one of the biggest music events in history, the Woodstock music festival. It is not about grooving to a mellow scene, it is about talented people solving problems as they arose and when they were not tied down by their problems they were grooving to the scene. Directed by: Mick Richards. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
I saw CREATING WOODSTOCK as an outsider of the rock scene. Guess what. I did then and still do prefer Puccini scene. At least twice that I can remember I tried to watch the film WOODSTOCK. It did not do much for me and I gave up on it twice. So I approached seeing another documentary about the concert not expecting to like it much, but still I was determined to give it a try.
Rather than documenting what the musical performances were and what celebrities were on the stage, instead it was about problem solving. It was about people who put the show together, the problems that came up, and how they were circumvented well or not so well. Even without a strong interest in the music and the performers I intend to watch the film again. It is an education of who the organizers were and to show documentary film of people a concert. CREATING WOODSTOCK has a good collection of interviews with organizers and performers and of the event. Much of what is covered includes more anecdotes or even gossip. It gives more information or how this massive task of putting on the three-day super-concert. We see how organizing the concert was accomplished. Many of the special problems of Woodstock came with problems of scale. Typically performers would arrive and have no instructions what to do next. Then they would disappear into the crowd and could not be found.
Perhaps the film is most engrossing as it tells of mistakes and near-mistakes that were made by the organizers. Maybe the organizers really were being watched over by angels. If a few fewer people showed up, there would not have been enough volunteers. If a few more attendees had arrived, the crowds would have been too large to manage. There were still problems when too many or too few attendees showed up. But the problems were still manageable.
As an example, the organizers were already admitting people and collecting admissions before attendees stormed them. Then they realized that there was no way to collect admissions as fast as would have been necessary. Reluctantly they announced that the attendance was now free. They really had no other choice.
Under time pressure the sanitary facilities were thrown together. Then the state government sent an inspector. This would have been sufficient cause to shut down the show before it really got started. But as it happened the inspector brought his 15-year-old daughter. She ran off at her first opportunity and melted into the crowd. The inspector spent the rest of the weekend looking for his daughter and never did the inspection.
The hero of the film and of the entire celebration is one Max Yasgur, a Jewish farmer. When it looked to the organizers like there was no place acceptable to set up the concert stage, Yasgur heard about the problem and contacted the organizers suggesting one of his fields. It turned out to be perfect. Yasgur merits a special memoriam in the closing credits.
Over all the film provides several engrossing footnotes to history.
I rate CREATING WOODSTOCK a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10
Incidentally claims are made to the crowd that Woodstock was the largest public gathering in history. However, it attracted 400,000 attendees. That was in 1969. Mahatma Gandhi's funeral attracted between 2.5 and 3.5 million attendees in 1948. That was roughly five times as many people attending the funeral
Film Credits: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10161666/reference
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/creating_woodstock
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2019 Mark R. Leeper