The Woodstock music festival is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most fundamental moments in popular music history.
The three days in August 1969 brought together over 500,000 people in celebration of life, love, music, and let’s be honest…drugs.
Woodstock brings back nostalgic memories for those who attended the festival and inspiration to the modern generation who missed the event of the century.
The movie Taking Woodstock is based on the life story of Elliot Tiber, played by Demetri Martin, who has spent a large part of his adolescence trying to keep his family’s small motel business in the Catskill Mountains afloat.
Once Elliot gets news that Woodstock cannot be performed in the town it was to be originally held in, he saw an opportunity to help his family out of debt.
Elliot’s clever business instincts and an already approved festival permit led the festival to its location on the 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York.
The Director of the film, Ang Lee, does a wonderful job at capturing all aspects of Woodstock in a very matter-of- fact way. He pays precise attention to many details of the times, such as the location of the festival and the appearances of the flower children.
He also illustrates social feelings of the people, who were immersed in anti-war feelings of hope and change during that time of history.
Another plus to the film was that the cast was perfectly chosen and their performances were excellent. Demetri Martin plays the character Elliot with subtle humor and innocence that you cannot help but fall in love with.
Paul Dano, the flower child, Liev Schreiber, the cross dresser, and Emile Hirsch, the Vietnam vet, all played memorable characters in the movie that represented different aspects to the 1960’s.
While their screen time was minimal, their impact to the film was exponential.
While Ang Lee pays a lot creative attention to drug experiences throughout the film, much of Taking Woodstock is not taken place at the festival. Only a small scene is filmed there and the stage is never shot up-close, but as a large light in the distance.
Viewers should be aware and warned that this movie is NOT about the three day music festival itself, but rather how it came to be. If you are expecting heavy musical performances this is not the movie for you.
Overall, I give Taking Woodstock three out of five stars. While the movie is a bit lengthy, and somewhat anti-climactic, it does its job well in paying tribute to the essence of Woodstock. I believe the film encourages unity and can confidently say that any fan of the 1960’s will enjoy and appreciate this movie.