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Woodstock Three Days smWoodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (2019)

Fifty years ago last summer, and just one month after the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, a half million "hippies" descended upon Max Yasgur's farm in upstate New York from August 15 to 17 for what the promoters called “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music." I was fourteen years old. Like the moon landing, Woodstock became an iconic event that defined a generation. This commemorative documentary directed by Barak Goodman and Jamila Ephron premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019, and then on PBS that August. There had been previous music festivals, most notably the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and events today like Burning Man, but nothing like Woodstock with its massive traffic gridlock, mud and rain, "freak out tents" for the overdosed, nude bathing, and food shortages. The film begins with the cultural backdrop of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of MLK and RFK within a month of each other, the civil rights movement, and the younger generation's "counter-cultural" push back. We're half way through the movie before we get to Day 1 and the opening act by Richie Havens. The film combines archival footage, still photos, and the voice overs of regulars attendees (instead of talking head experts). "It was a mark in cosmic time, I have no doubt about that; it stopped the clock for three days," remembers one festival goer.  And after it was over? "I had to go back to work," said another. I watched this film on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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