Woodstock (film)

Woodstock is a 1970 documentary film of the watershed counterculture Woodstock Festival which took place in August 1969 near Bethel, New York. Entertainment Weekly called this film the benchmark of concert movies and one of the most entertaining documentaries ever made.[4]

Directed byMichael Wadleigh
Produced byBob Maurice
Edited byMichael Wadleigh
Martin Scorsese
Stan Warnow
Yeu-Bun Yee
Jere Huggins
Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 26, 1970 (1970-03-26)
Running time
185 minutes (1970)[1]
224 minutes (1994)[2]
CountryUnited States
Box office$50 million[3]

The film was directed by Michael Wadleigh. Seven editors are credited, including Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, and Wadleigh. Woodstock was a great commercial and critical success. It received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Schoonmaker was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, a rare distinction for a documentary.[5] Dan Wallin and L. A. Johnson were nominated for the Oscar for Best Sound.[6][7] The film was screened at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.[8]

The 1970 theatrical release of the film ran 185 minutes. A director's cut spanning 224 minutes was released in 1994. Both cuts take liberties with the timeline of the festival. However, the opening and closing acts are the same in the film as they appeared on stage; Richie Havens opens the show and Jimi Hendrix closes it.

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock was also released separately on DVD and Blu-ray.

In 1996, Woodstock was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". An expanded 40th Anniversary Edition of Woodstock, released on June 9, 2009 in Blu-ray and DVD formats, features additional performances not before seen in the film, and also includes lengthened versions of existing performances featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival and others.[9]


Artists by appearance

No. Group / Singers Title
1.* Crosby, Stills & Nash "Long Time Gone"
2.* Canned Heat "Going Up the Country"
3.* Crosby, Stills & Nash "Wooden Ships"
4. Richie Havens "Handsome Johnny"
5. "Freedom" / "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"
6. Canned Heat "A Change Is Gonna Come" **
7. Joan Baez "Joe Hill"
8. "Swing Low Sweet Chariot"
9. The Who "We're Not Gonna Take It" / "See Me, Feel Me"
10. "Summertime Blues"
11. Sha-Na-Na "At the Hop"
12. Joe Cocker and the Grease Band "With a Little Help from My Friends"
13. Audience "Crowd Rain Chant"
14. Country Joe and the Fish "Rock and Soul Music"
15. Arlo Guthrie "Coming Into Los Angeles"
16. Crosby, Stills & Nash "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"
17. Ten Years After "I'm Going Home"
18. Jefferson Airplane "Saturday Afternoon" / "Won't You Try" **
19. "Uncle Sam's Blues" **
20. John Sebastian "Younger Generation"
21. Country Joe McDonald "FISH Cheer / Feel-Like-I'm-Fixing-to-Die-Rag"
22. Santana "Soul Sacrifice"
23. Sly and the Family Stone "Dance to the Music" / "I Want to Take You Higher"
24. Janis Joplin "Work Me, Lord" **
25. Jimi Hendrix "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (credited as "Voodoo Chile" in the film) **
26. "The Star-Spangled Banner"
27. "Purple Haze"
28. "Woodstock Improvisation" **
29. "Villanova Junction"
30.* Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "Woodstock" / "Find the Cost of Freedom" **

* studio recording from an album by the artist
** director's cut only, not in the original theatrical release

Artists omitted


Woodstock received universal acclaim from newspaper and magazine critics in 1970. It was also an enormous box office smash. The edition of May 20, 1970 of Variety reported it was doing well in its third week in Chicago and San Francisco.[10] In each of those metropolitan areas the movie played at only one cinema during that week, but many thousands showed up.[10] Eventually, after it branched out to more cinemas including more than one per metropolitan area, it grossed $50 million in the United States. The budget for its production was just $600,000,[3] making it not only the sixth highest-grossing film of 1970 but one of the most profitable movies of that year as well.

Decades after its initial release, the film earned a 100% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.58/10.[11]

In his original 1970 review, Roger Ebert rated the movie 4 stars (out of 4) and described it as "maybe the best documentary ever made in America", adding "The remarkable thing about Wadleigh's film is that it succeeds so completely in making us feel how it must have been to be there".[12] In 2005 Ebert added Woodstock to his "Great Movies" list and wrote a retrospective review that stated, "Woodstock is a beautiful, moving, ultimately great film...Now that the period is described as a far-ago time like "the 1920s" or "the 1930s," how touching it is in this film to see the full flower of its moment, of its youth and hope."[13]

In a 2009 review, Noel Murray of The A.V. Club graded the DVD release A-, stating, "Wadleigh crafted a film with a thoughtful flow; it tells the full story of the event, from the paranoia (and eventual acceptance) of the locals to the helpful attitudes (and eventual paranoia) of the throng. Woodstock runs for more than 20 minutes before Wadleigh even gets to any of the performances, and throughout the film, he cuts away to interviews and montages that map out the scope of the mini-community formed at Woodstock, in all its glories and sadness." [14]

In a 2019 review, Danielle Solzman described it as "a film that everybody ought to watch at least once in their life", adding "If there's a better concert documentary out there than Woodstock, I haven’t seen it."[15]

Subsequent editions

25th Anniversary Director's Cut (1994)

Upon the festival's 25th anniversary, in 1994, a 224 minutes director's cut of the film — subtitled 3 Days of Peace & Music and annotated 40th anniversary revisited – the director's cut — was theatrically released in cinemas and later (July 29, 2014[2]) on DVD. It added over 40 minutes and included additional performances by Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix's set at the end of the film was also extended with two additional numbers. Some of the crowd scenes in the original film were replaced by previously unseen footage.

Woodstock Generation
it up
Tear it up
have a Ball

Woodstock (director's cut) closing credits

After the closing credits — featuring Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Find the Cost of Freedom"[16] — a list of prominent people from the "Woodstock Generation" who had died is shown, including John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King Jr., Mama Cass Elliot, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Max Yasgur, Roy Orbison, Abbie Hoffman, Paul Butterfield, Keith Moon, Bob Hite, Richard Manuel, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. It ends with the epitaph to the right:

40th Anniversary edition (2009)

On June 9, 2009 a 40th-anniversary edition was released in two-disc sets on Blu-ray and DVD, available as both a "Special Edition" and an "Ultimate Collector's Edition". The latter included copious memorabilia. The director's cut was newly remastered in high definition with a 2K scan of the original elements, and provided a new 5.1 audio mix. Among the special features are 18 never-before-seen performances from artists such as Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and Joe Cocker; five of the artists included—Paul Butterfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter and Mountain—played at Woodstock but had never appeared in any film version.[17]

The bonus songs, a 143-minute collection of 18 performances presented in standard definition, are entitled "Untold Stories":

  • Joan Baez: "{I Live} One Day at a Time" (4:17)
  • Country Joe McDonald: "Flying High" (2:21)
  • Santana: "Evil Ways" (3:56)
  • Canned Heat: "I'm Her Man" (5.33)
  • Canned Heat: "On the Road Again" (10.49)
  • Mountain: "Beside the Sea" (3:38)
  • Mountain: "Southbound Train" (6:17)
  • The Grateful Dead: "Turn on Your Love Light" (37:44)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: "Born on the Bayou" (5:12)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: "I've Put a Spell On You" (4:10)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: "Keep on Chooglin" (9:25)
  • The Who: "We're Not Going to Take It" (9:07)
  • The Who: "My Generation" (7:36)
  • Jefferson Airplane: "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" (5:40)
  • Joe Cocker: "Something's Coming On" (4:14)
  • Johnny Winter: "Mean Town Blues" (10:52)
  • Paul Butterfield: "Morning Sunrise" (8:26)
  • Sha Na Na: "Teen Angel" (3:21)

Bonus featurettes, also in standard definition, last 77 minutes. Entitled "Woodstock: From Festival to Feature," they cover the festival itself, the challenges of making the film, its reception and legacy, and other topics:

  • The Camera
  • 365,000 Feet of Film
  • Shooting Stage
  • The Lineup
  • Holding the Negative Hostage
  • Announcements
  • Suits vs. Longhairs
  • Documenting History
  • Woodstock: The Journey
  • Pre-Production
  • Production
  • Synchronization
  • The Crowd
  • No Rain! No Rain!
  • 3 Days in a Truck
  • The Woodstock Effect
  • Living Up to Idealism
  • World's Longest Optical
  • Critical Acclaim
  • The Hog Farm Commune (Courtesy of The Museum at Bethel Woods)
  • Hugh Hefner and Michael Wadleigh (The Woodstock Connection)

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music – The Director's Cut, 40th Anniversary Revisited (2014)

This edition contains the same Blu-ray version of the film released in 2009 along with the second Blu-ray disc of bonus features, but the latter are now presented in high definition.[18] The set also adds a third Blu-ray disc with "Untold Stories Revisited," sixteen previously unreleased performances and eight more featurettes.[17]

The sixteen performances that run 73 minutes are:

  1. Melanie: "Mr. Tambourine Man/Tuning My Guitar" (6:18)
  2. Joan Baez: "Oh Happy Day" (3:59)
  3. Joan Baez: "I Shall Be Released" (3:38)
  4. Santana: "Persuasion" (2:55)
  5. Canned Heat: "Woodstock Boogie" (8:38)
  6. The Grateful Dead: "Mama Tried" (2:53)
  7. The Who: "Sparks" (5:25)
  8. The Who: "Pinball Wizard" (2:51)
  9. Jefferson Airplane: "Volunteers" (2:53)
  10. Jefferson Airplane: "Come Back Baby" (5:56)
  11. Country Joe and the Fish: "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" (4:23)
  12. Crosby, Stills & Nash: "Helplessly Hoping" (2:27)
  13. Crosby, Stills & Nash: "Marrakesh Express" (2:55)
  14. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" (8:53)
  15. Sha Na Na: "Book of Love" (2:07)
  16. Jimi Hendrix: "Spanish Castle Magic" (7:09)

The eight featurettes are entitled "Woodstock: From Festival to Feature Revisited." They run a total of 32 minutes in length and cover the festival behind the scenes, its history and legacy, and the restoration of the film:

  1. Restoration
  2. Technical Difficulties
  3. Woodstock: A Turning Point
  4. Food, Lodging & First Aid
  5. Reflections of an Era
  6. Woodstock: A Farm in Bethel
  7. A Cinematic Revolution
  8. The Woodstock Generation

Cultural references

In the science fiction thriller The Omega Man (1971), Colonel Robert Neville (played by Charlton Heston) is seen traveling to a movie theatre in Los Angeles to screen the film for himself alone. Woodstock had been a recent film debuting prior to release of The Omega Man, and had been held over (continuously run) in some theaters for months. Neville darkly remarks the film is so popular it was "held over for the third straight year". As he repeats some of the dialogue verbatim, it is clear that Neville has repeated the ritual many times during the two years that he has believed himself to be the last man alive on Earth.

See also


  1. "Woodstock (X)". British Board of Film Classification. May 7, 1970. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  2. "Woodstock – 40th Anniversary Limited Edition (40th anniversary revisited – the director's cut)". amazon.com. April 2019. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  3. "Woodstock, Worldwide Box Office". Worldwide Box Office. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  4. The Entertainment Weekly Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made. New York: Warner Books. 1996. p. 130.
  5. Dunks, Glenn (December 6, 2014). "Team FYC: Citizenfour for Editing". The Film Experience.
  6. "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  7. "NY Times: Woodstock". NY Times. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  8. "Festival de Cannes: Woodstock". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved April 11, 2009.
  9. "Woodstock 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Import: Amazon.ca: Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Roger Daltrey, Joe Cocker, Country Joe McDonald, Arlo Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Janis Joplin, The Who, Sha-Na-Na, Country Joe and the Fish, Al Wertheimer, David Myers, Don Lenzer, Malcolm Hart, Michael Margetts, Michael Wadleigh, Bob Maurice, Dale Bell: DVD".
  10. "Here is proof that many thousands of... - Susanna Radaelli - Facebook".
  11. "Woodstock, Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  12. "Woodstock". RogerEbert.com. May 3, 1970. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  13. "Great Movie-Woodstock". RogerEbert.com. May 22, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  14. "Woodstock (DVD review)". The A.V. Club. June 10, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  15. "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music". Word Press. August 15, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  16. "Woodstock (1970)". IMDb.
  17. "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. July 29, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  18. "DVD Review: Release 'revisits' Woodstock's 40th anniversary - LA Times". Glendalenewspress.com. August 15, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2015.


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