15:29 16 June 2009
Title: Woodstock (Ultimate Collector's Edition) (1969)
Release date: June 15 2009
Format: Reviewed on DVD, available on Blu-ray
DVD RRP: 19.99
For many it's the definitive music documentary but now 'Woodstock', speeding past its 40th anniversary, has just got better. Available on a lavish four-disc set or a two-disc Blu-ray, this (dodgy new artwork aside) is an essential in your collection.
Perfectly encapsulating an entire era's atmosphere through a shared quest for peace and love, 'Woodstock' reveals a festival that was way over capacity (going on half a million atendees) that ran out of food, water and medical supplies but as it's a completely different world than today's no-one rioted or opted for violence.
It wasn't all roses though - the fantastically probing filmmakers involved manage to capture all of the sex, drugs, nudity and swearing first hand. But rather than exploiting, 'Woodstock' examines. We are granted access to pretty much everyone involved from those in attendance to the police, media and even those in surrounding towns.
And on the stage itself, the line-up is simply stunning: Jimi Henrix, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Joan Baez and many more. If that wasn't enough, they're just some of the ones that made the original cut. This stunning reissue adds entirely new footage from The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Mountain among plenty of others.
Even then, this film wasn't always about the music or the crowd, both of which were caught up in a time when America was in transition. 'Woodstock' itself is a masterpiece of cinematic innovation, thanks largely to its pioneering use of split screen.
Arguably for the first time, a film portrayed both a band on stage and the audience's reaction simultaneously. Another fantastic bi-product is that we get to see even more footage without losing a beat.
All this and a three day pass was only $18... Times have changed. Having said that, the four-disc DVD is certainly worth its 20 quid asking price. Finding four-hours to watch a film is a high demand on most audiences but 'Woodstock' is one epic that you can't afford to miss.
Warner Bros have done a brilliant job restoring this important (and deservedly Oscar winning) documentary, adding more than three hours of bonus material. A true essential.
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