Historical Accuracy/Inaccuracy of Woodstock The Movie

Historical Accuracy/Inaccuracy of Woodstock The Movie


Historical Accuracy/Inaccuracy ofWoodstock: The Movie

Historical Accuracy/Inaccuracy ofWoodstock: The Movie


Documentaries provide a timeline and data of historical events butsometimes they misrepresent and manipulate data to appeal to acertain audience. Woodstock: The Movie, is a good example ofhow screenwriters and directors misrepresent historical events orprovide a wrecked timeline as it takes liberty with the timeline ofthe festival. The documentary does not comprehensively portrayeverything as it happened. For instance, the directors only showed asmall part of the chaos that took place during the event itself.However, the film documents the counterculture movement and musicthat highlighted the Woodstock Festival of August 1969. The filmaffects people’s understanding of the festival in a positivemanner, as it propagates peace by using music. In addition, despitethe numerous challenges that occur during the festival, the filmdecides to overlook these challenges and instead depict them asinconsequential or part of the counterculture movement. For example,the film shows scenes of happy people, smiling and having fun as theyprepare for the event as well as shows Michael Lang riding on ahorseback.

The method of delivery in the filmdiffers greatly from what actually transpired. The film assumes thatthe events it presents have a wider cultural importance than theactual events thus, employs a narrative that embodies thesignificance of the events by presenting the festival as the climaxof the American counterculture. While this demonstration grasps theattention of the viewers and helps to expose the actual events in adifferent manner, it creates an incorrect impression about thehappenings of the festival. In this regards, the film produces adescription of counterculture lifestyle by contrasting music withshared scenes, drug consumption, and comments on the Vietnam War.However, by focusing on the lifestyle, it aids in portraying the1960s juvenile experience and lifestyle. Consequently, the abstractrepresentation of the film together with its lasting commercialachievement serves to manifest the filmmaker’s discernment of theevent in the public views and expand the remarkable status ofWoodstock as the symbol of the counterculture.

In the last few decades, directors have generated numerous filmsgeared towards recognizing historical events in a dissimilar or ananalogous manner. In this regards, it is essential to understandwhether these historical films have rendered historical eventsin a precise manner and if not why have the directors of these filmsmanipulated facts. However, most historical films have alwaysmanipulated some factors thereby, disallowing the public to have acorrect grasp of historical events. Several scholars have assertedthat directors and screenwriters should not have a free reign inhistorical movies since they can tentatively invoke events thatgratify them and pass them off as the authentic events (Bell, 1999).In fact, any conveyance of historical events in films should followan original and accurate system to avert any scenario of peoplefalling into chicanery as well to avert the passage of fictionalversions as the actuality. In this regards, the discussion of the wayfilms have contrived history, specifically through Woodstock: TheMovie will help to show historical accuracies or inaccuracies infilms.

A 1970 American documented film, Woodstock: The Movie,documents the crunch counterculture Woodstock Festival that occurredin August 1969. Directed by Michael Wadleigh, the film takes libertywith the timeline of the festival but provides the exact opening andclosing act as the festival. In this regards, the film provides atimeline of the festival but not in an accurate and precise manner.On the other hand, the festival involved 32 acts performed in theopen to 400,000 people thus, it is important to note thesimilarities between the film and the actual festival. The failure ofthe film to provide accurate events and timelines gives the falseimpression to the viewers on the occurrences of the festival. Infact, the creators of the film alter the perception of the film’sviewers thus, the need for the separation of history and cinema. Inthis regards, the discussion will revolve around the inaccuracies ofthe film, the distortion of facts, the narrative adopted, as well asthe adoption of counter-culture movement and aspects of thefestivals.

Howthe film affects people’s understating of the event

Byer (2004) asserts that film plays a major role in explaining thenature of things in history, especially when producers and directorsuse documentaries to depict the events. While creating a film, thedirectors pay attention to explaining how things worked in thecontext of what they are describing and the fabric of the events thatshaped it. Additionally, good directors work to provide indelibleimages of the events they are describing. According to Gibson (2014)the best way to proffer indelible image is to invoke the creativeconsciousness of the audiences, so that they can process theinformation of the film and connect with the intention of thedirectors. Although filmmakers focus on creating the content for thepublic, they also focus on the social and cultural history of theevents they are describing, especially the important aspects thatmade those particular events unique.

The directors and producers of Woodstock worked towards not onlydescribing the event but also striving to give room. The theme of theevent, as originally planned by the organizers, was to propagatepeace by using music. As such, the directors took peace to be one ofthe major themes in the film. In the opening scenes, the documentaryhas scenes of beautiful pasture in the countryside. This, incounterculture perspective, is the opposite of the busy town setting,which the modern American society is used to. By showing a shirtlessman and woman riding on a horse, the director aimed at portraying afree-form way of life, which is a fruit of peace and harmony amongstpeople. The directors also showed scenes of happy people, smiling andhaving fun as they prepared for the event. To further cement theportrayal of free-form living, Michael Lang, one of the producers,shows up riding on a horseback. Using this symbolism, they intendedthe audience to view the event as the perfect form of life, whichthey were probably missing. During the period of the happening of theevent and subsequent creation of the documentary, most films thatwere produced featured violence and hatred, which are a manifestationof a peace-less society.

By focusing on the youth, the documentary attempted to make theaudience understand the event as the gate to the future form ofentertainment. In the 23rd minute of the documentary,Richie Havens goes on stage, dressed in a long tan robe, to playHandsome Jonny. The song itself is about the tradition ofsending young people to go to fight in wars, where they often end updead. By following the performance in detail, for instance, recordingthe response of the audience, the director meant to show the effectthat the song had on the attendees, and ultimately, the audience. Thedocumentary, as such, makes the audience interpret the event as arevelation to the youth, who should rise, through counterculture, todecide how to live their lives. On the same, the makers of the filmattempted to influence the audience to be against the social normsthat seem to be wasteful to them and those around them.

While creating the documentary, the directors had an objective ofshowing the audience how the masses have an upper say on the systemof the society. This is especially by opposing social norms that mayhinder their personal happiness. According to Agarwal (2013), thesociety has the ultimate say in the way that those in authoritygoverns them, for instance, by influencing the rules that are set tokeep them in check. After the performance of Freedom/sometimes Ifeel like a motherless child, a song that arguably containssocial order and political meaning, the documentary shows scenes ofkids climbing over fences. While they help each other to jump over,their collective weight forces the fence’ structure to give in,thus breaking down. After that, Artie Kornfield is shown saying“there’s people out there that really don’t dig it. Very few ofthem man. You know it’s really to the point where its family, man”.Using this scene, the directors are showing the audience that theevent is one where people in the society treat each other as family.This ultimately makes the audience understand the event as a unifyingforce. Soon after that, the organizers take down the fence,announcing the event as a “free concert for everyone”. Using thissequence of events, the directors of the documentary sell offWoodstock concert as a free and welcoming event.

Thedocumentary’s portrayal of certain events/moments/features in amanipulated light

Film directors have the freedom to either portray things as they are,as well as manipulating certain elements to pass across some intendedmessage (Rabiger, Michael &amp Hurbis-Cherrier, 2013). Thedocumentary, Woodstock, does not exhaustively portray everything asit happened. For instance, the directors only showed a small part ofthe chaos that took place during the event itself. For instance,while planning for the event, the organizers had planned for lessthan 100,000 people. This means that they had put in plans andinvested resources to host the music lovers without any problems andcomfortably. However, during the actual event, they hosted much morethan the number that they had planned. The documentary fails tohighlight this aspect of the organization, and instead, concentratesmore on showing the success of the event. Should the directors havehad the intention to show how things hand blown out of proportions,there would at least have been a scene to show the failure in thisaspect.

Logically,one cannot expect the documentary to highlight serious failures,given the fact that the organizers, Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld,were the makers of the documentary. As such, they would exaggeratesome elements using portraying them in a different light. Forinstance, at 1:44:25, the documentary shows some people drinking andsmoking Marijuana. In the same scene, there are a series of peoplesmoking marijuana as they happily dance to the music. However, to adda twist to this illegal activity, the directors included policeofficers licking ice cream, as they ignore this illegal activity. Themost justifiable explanation for this is that the directors intendedthe audience to think of the event as one that does not take intoconsideration social order. While it is reasonable to take thedocumentary as one that portrays the events of the concert, thedirectors exaggerate social logic as it is known, by concentrating onshowing people doing illegal activities in the presence of theauthorities.

Whilethe directors had the obligation of showing the events in detail, itwas unnecessary to use some content in the documentary. For instance,the documentary openly shows nude women skinny-dipping, as they arehaving fun. According to Rooney &amp Belli (2011), directors, intheir capacity, are supposed to entertain and teach as well. At31:04, the directors show two men discussing the unpredictability ofswimming styles. Reasonably, showing the girls as swim would havebeen enough for purposes of showing how swimming has evolved over theyears, or better still, through a voice-over to describe theswimming. In the opinion of the author, it was wrong for thedirectors to show half-naked women as they jump into the water. At34:17, there are two seemingly intoxicated women making out. This hasnothing to show how the swimming tactics had evolved then, rather,for sexual appeal. According to Benshoff &amp Griffin (2011), manydirectors opt to use women’s sexuality as a selling point for theirproductions. As such, the makers of the documentary portrayed theyoung women’s joy in an exaggerated form. However, given that theirresponsibility was to show the events as they unfolded, on can assumethat the directors were acting within their responsibility.

Historianshave discussed the relevance of the event by associating it with thewar in Vietnam, which was ongoing during that period. As such, thedirectors wanted to bring out the theme of peace, especially bylinking the youths to anti-war ideologies. On this, the directors dida splendid job to show how the youths were dissociating themselveswith that war. At 31:04, the documentary whose two men discuss thereason that brought the young people to the event, which is to havefun and forget everything that is associated with war violence. Themen are heard saying

“They don’t just come for the music, they come for theexperience. You realize that all over the country, you realize thatyou are not the only people in your city, doing the things that youare doing”.

These assertions, together with some other dialogues in thedocumentary, show that the young people were quite happy to beassociated with the event, and putting themselves far from therealities of war. In this regard, the directors overstress the reasonof the event but show it as it happened.

Thedocumentary balances the event’s theme of countercultural.Arapoglou (2014) asserts the fact that the war in Vietnam hadresulted in a divided nation, as some people supported its causewhile others were completely against it. At 1:06:50, the documentaryshows pictures of a sanitation worker cleaning the bathroom. Thedirector was keen to get her opinion of the war and the event. Whilechanging the soap and cleaning the toilet, the lady claimed that shewas happy doing that. “Glad to do this for these kids. I’ve forone here right now and another one in Vietnam”, she said. Tofurther ascertain the effort put by the lady, the directors soughtthe opinion of one of the people attending the event. The young manclaimed that the facilities were top-notch, showing that the effortsof the Lady were approved. By doing this, the directors, in anon-exaggerated way, show that the event was successful in pushingfor counter-culturalism. Furthermore, it shows that the youth had amuch better option, which was enjoying their time in their country,without having to engage themselves in war.

Focusof the documentary on the aspects of the festival

The main focus of the documentarywas showing the music festival and the fun that the young people whoattend were having. Although the directors wanted to show thefestival’s events as they happened, they failed to show someaspects of the whole idea of holding the event, which wascounter-culturalism. During this period, the American people werehighly insecure with what was going on in Vietnam. As mentionedearlier, some people supported the war, while some others wereagainst its ideology. During the filming, it was expected that theauthors made considerable effort to show the feelings of theattendees on the issue of insecurity concerning what was going on inVietnam. However, apart from a song that mentioned the war in Vietnamand mention of it by the lady who was cleaning the toilets, thedirectors largely ignored this topic. At 30:20, a townsperson is seensaying that the kids were happy and were having much fun, which wasthe intent of the concert. However, he goes ahead to note that theevent had nothing to do with what was going on in Vietnam. This isenough to say that the documentary did not address this issue withenough weight, as it concentrated on showing the fun that they peoplewere having.

To a reasonable extent, thedocumentary focused on the happy side of life, and in the process,avoided to communicate sensitive issues in the society. Liu &ampTrimble (2014) say that the issue of drug abuse has been a majorproblem in the United States, often eating into the productive timeand finances of the young people. The documentary focused on showingthe happy side of marijuana, which is self-enjoyment and relaxation.The documentary arguably shows too much of Marijuana use, whichperhaps, was a tactic by the directors to attract a young audience tolike the documentary, by relating to the marijuana use. In reality,countercultural is not homogenous, as it includes aspects of sociallife, religion, and drug use. However, the directors went astray byshowing marijuana smoking and other forms of drug use as entities oftaking the young people to higher levels of consciousness. In thissense, the documentary’s message to the young audience is that theyshould embrace all things, including emerging forms ofself-recreation, such as drug use, without minding their effect.

The documentary also spends muchtime showing the hippie culture’s social norms, which are becauseof counter-cultural. In counter-cultural, the hippie culture standsout as a movement of the sixties that was defining the future of theyouths. The documentary goes to the extent of showing a whole song at24:17 performed by Joe MacDonald. Without minding the explicitlyrics, the directors included pictures of the singer and audiencechanting sexually explicit words. By doing this, the directorembraces the open sexuality, which some scholars say is precluded byAmerican covetousness. Moreover, the hippies, who make a majority ofthe people that attended the festival, wish that they can build asociety that is free of daily hardships and ignore the realities onthe ground. While it is part of the directors’ job to show what wasgoing on, they somehow concentrated on showing the hippie lifestyle,while ignoring the level of influence that it has on these youngpeople.

The documentary focused a lot inshowing the success of the event, and ignoring failures.Particularly, the directors focused on showing the audience how theevent was able to attract hundreds of thousands of people whileignoring the negative side of this. At 13:27, the documentary shows ahelicopter hovering over the event while describing the people whoattended the event as an “army”. In another incident, there is awoman who is cleaning the toilets, seemingly satisfied with her job.However, the documentary does not show the negative effects that theovercrowding caused. In most public events, excesses, and unplannednumbers are often disastrous. In a real sense, some organizers havebeen forced to cancel events, or better still, put in mechanisms tohandle the excess numbers that are in attendance. However, in thisparticular documentary, there are not such measures being shown, asthe directors concentrated on passing the event as a success. Whilehaving big numbers attending an event is not negative, there are somedetrimental implications of the same. The director of thedocumentary, however, put too much focus on showing that the successof the event, without showing the negative effects of theovercrowding.

Narrativeand the Casting of the Characters

Intoday’s context of cinema, a movie documentary refers to an ‘actualfilm’ or television presentation that depicts a popular act, scene,music artist or aspect, or an event. Most scholars agree that adocumentary denotes a filmmaking that endeavors to picture the livingscenario and the living account (Bell, 1999). In this regards, adocumentary represents a blueprint for the actual events. However, asrevealed in the way documentaries depict actual events, it issignificant to note that the method of conveyance in the film differsgreatly from the system utilized in an actual event. Differentchannels or films utilize different narratives to convey informationor the living accounts of a historical event. Thus, analyzing thefilm reveals a greater representation of events than the actualhappenings. The film utilizes visual editing approaches that endeavorto capture the sensation of musical presentations in the actualevents. For example, the film uses rapid zooming and split screens tomatch visual images to recitations and lyrical catchphrases. Inaddition, the film presupposes that the events it presents have awider cultural importance than the actual events.

Woodstock employs a narrative thatupraises the significance of the events by bestowing the festival asthe high point of the American counterculture. Although thispresentation grasps the attention of the viewers and helps to revealthe actual events in a different manner, it creates a falseimpression about the happenings of the festival. The film generates anarrative of counterculture lifestyle by contrasting music withcommunal scenes, drug consumption, and comments on the Vietnam War.In this regards, the film proffers a comprehensible combination ofthe late 1960s juvenile experience and lifestyle. Thus, theconceptual symbolism employed by the film together with its lifelongcommercial accomplishment serves to manifest the filmmaker’sperception of the event in the public thoughts and augment the fabledstatus of Woodstock as the hallmark of the counterculture. On theother hand, the festival involved rock and roll concerts, drug use,and some recordings. A good account of people maintains that musicperformances in the festival were unprecedented, the traffic wasgridlocked, and it rain heavily. The movie provides a great accountof the festival as well as represents the festival as more than arock and roll concert. The film captures the musical accounts of thefestival and the events that shaped the society then.

The festival started as the idea offour men Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, and ArtieKornfeld with the intention of creating an upstart recording studio.However, the festival ended up hosting a large number of people closeto 400,000 in Bethel, New York. The creators had expected to hostnearly 100,000 during the period of the festival but theymiscalculated, and commuting problems became severe. Although MichaelWadleigh and his crew shot twenty-one hours of the festival, thefinal documentary consisted of only five and a half hours of thefestival. While Lang and Kornfeld provided the artistic,creative, and cultural direction of the Festival within the executiveteam, Joel Rosenman and John Roberts principally served as theprincipal providers of revenue, and represented and attended to thefinancial and legal aspects of the endeavor. One should understandthat Lang and Kornfeld did not invest any money into the festivalthus, they only invested in the social and cultural acceptance of thefestival rather than the financial success.

Understanding the roles of the creators is important in revealing howthe film perceives the festival, creators. Due to organizers’miscalculation, the fence that had surrounded the grounds wastrampled down by the thousands of youth eager to enter Woodstock. Thefence was initially intended to serve as the principal boundary ofthe festival, and only those patrons who had bought or sourcedtickets could enter past the surrounding gates. Consequently, whenreceiving word from Wes Pomeroy – Lang’s appointed Chief ofSecurity – about the destruction of the fence, Michael Lang andArtie Kornfeld moved to end both ticket sales and checks, andessentially opened the festival to the public. They did so onPomeroy’s advice who suggested that this would decrease andpotentially prevent many safety concerns. In fact, the advice wasthat if potential festival patrons would not have to buy tickets,then their speed would be reduced, the sentiment and possibleaggression of the crowd would be pacified, and there would be nofurther incentive to damage any remaining infrastructure or deceivefestival staff concerning tickets. More importantly, in Lang andKornfeld’s eyes, it would also serve to bolster and gratify theimage of the festival in the eyes of the counterculture of whoseacceptance and respect they so desperately sought. Joel Rosenman andJohn Robert’s feeble response to this advice can be expected, andthey pressed to maintain ticket sales and checks, to strengthen andrepair the fences, and to revamp security procedures and staff.However, their desires were largely ignored, even dismissed, andMichael Lang gave the directive to go ahead and make the festivalfree and un-ticketed. Ultimately, this resulted to the festivalmaking a loss. The film does not feature this conversation it doesnot record or include any event relating to the debate about theremoval of the fence, and freeing of the festival. Perhaps, thedirector left the debate to appeal to the Counterculture and theideals that espoused the festival. In the documentary, one can seethe patrons climbing over the fence, helping their friends climbover, all the while doing so without check or constraint. In a matterof seconds, the fence is completely torn down, and the crowd simplywalks in uninterrupted and unfazed (35:00 – 35:14). A minutelater, the documentary shows Lang, Kornfeld, and Pomeroy discussingthe situation – note the unexplained absence of the other partnersRosenman and Roberts. The problem is seen as something simple, andthey immediately arrive at a decision (36:04 – 36:25). ChipMonck, the MC for Woodstock announces to cheers from the crowd, “It’sa free concert from now on.” (36:27). He continues to say,

“That doesn’t meant that anything goes. What that means is thatwe’re going to put the music up here for free. What that means isthat the people who are backing this thing, who put up the money forit are going to take a bit of a bash. That’s no hype, that’strue. What that means is that these people have it in their headsthat your welfare and the music is more important than the dollar.”

The exclusion of Rosenman and Roberts from the debate means that thedocumentary depicts the four creators in a different light. The filmtakes a positive depiction towards Lang and Kornfeld but takes anegative stand towards Roberts and Rosenman.

Woodstockcounterculture and the way it positions the festival

Starting in the 1950s, the American youths came up with ‘AmericanCounterculture Movement’, whose main objective was to oppose socialnorms (Liu &amp Trimble, 2014).The Woodstock event was itself a product of the counterculturemovement. Arguably, the main concern for the youths during thisperiod was to oppose what the American society had taken to be thesocial order. The young people, in revolt to this, came out stronglyopposing what their parents had taken to be the cultural standards.Some of the main elements of social norms that the youths rejectedwere racial segregation, the war in Vietnam, the social conduct ofwomen and materialism. The main tool for opposing this was music,which was the main highlight of the Woodstock event. While thecounterculture movement divided the country, especially along thelines of age and social conduct, it united those who had similarobjectives. While composing the documentary, the directors ensuredthat the elements of the counterculture movement mentioned above werewell featured.

Historians regard rock music as the strongest tool for the youths whoshared the counterculture movement. During the 1960s, one of the mostcherished rock artists was Jimi Hendrix. His image and music areprominently featured in the documentary. In the opening scene, thereis a Jimi Hendrix strangled banner, which is part of the openingcredits. The directors use this to draw the attention of the audienceto the feel of rock music, which historians have over time associatedwith the counter-culture movement. At 23:30, the name of Eddie Krameris mentioned, who was one of the chief associates of Jimi Hendrix.Shortly after that, another rock music icon, Richie Habens, goes onstage to perform a rock song. The song itself, called HandsomeJonny, calls upon the American youth to shun war and assume thelifestyle of typical hippies. These are some of the elements thatpropagated the countercultural ideology during these times.

Scholarsand historians highly associate alcohol and drug use with thecountercultural movement (Liu &ampTrimble, 2014). In the documentary, the directors includescenes of young people openly smoking marijuana as they engage eachother. During the 1950s and the 1960s, the counterculturalrevolutionaries openly expressed their desire to change the Americansocial norms in a rather rebellious way. Without minding theauthorities, the documentary shows the young people openly smokingmarijuana as patrol police go about their business. The directors,through this documentary, demonstrate how the counterculture createda society of characters that shaped the way that future generationswould handle themselves. As the documentary relates the rebelliousmovement to the events that were unfolding during that time, itcreated a permanent picture of what transpired, and in equal measuresmay take place in the future. However, the documentary fails torepresent the use of hard drugs, a scenario that happened during thefestival. In fact, although the documentary shows the use ofmarijuana, the depiction is not comprehensive.

Byfocusing on showing the elements of the counterculture movement,especially rock music and drug use, the documentary serves thepurpose of placing the festival within the culture and Americansociety in the 1960s. While compiling the scenes, the directors keptin mind that the formation of the counterculture revolution hadutilized some forms of the media to ignite mass action. Music and thedepiction of drugs and sex in the music videos played a central rolein harmonizing the youths’ ideology of counter-cultural. Using thedocumentary, the directors focused on the experimentation with drugsamong the youth, using a backdrop of loud rock music to pass themessage through. The directors demonstrate the desire for change inthe documentary. For instance, the young people openly voice theirdissatisfaction with the way that the government is handling conflictand foreign matters, by speaking out against the Vietnam War. At thesame time, gender equality is well demonstrated in the video, as theladies swim out freely as their male counterparts. By focusing onsuch elements, the directors ensured that the documentary served itspurpose of placing the Woodstock event in the prevailing culturalcontext during the time.

It is also worth noting that although the documentary shows a largenumber of people who attended, the mud, rain, and the gridlockedtraffic, it fails to show the real atmosphere of the festival. Inaddition, the film depicts the people attending the festival asjovial, aligned to the counterculture movement, and that they enjoyedthe festival atmosphere fully. Such a representation makes viewersthink that the festival was a success, full of merry, and adventure.In fact, most viewers assume that the music performed, and theatmosphere of the festival were universally admired and loved bythose linked to with the counterculture movement in one way oranother. Judy Collins, on her way to Massachusetts, asserted that shewas horrified with the rain, thousands of people, and the mud (Bell,1999). Collins experience and the negative happenings of the festivalshow that the event was not as significant as it is symbolized in thedocumentary.

Depictionof events in the documentary

The documentaryopens with the Hendrix guitar solo and as Hendrix solo begins thedocumentary presents scenes of beautiful pasture, extensive openfields, and the crew putting up the land. However, the documentarysoon becomes too chronological and narrates the events of thefestival inaccurately. In fact, the documentary does not follow thetimeline of the festival or offer the narrative as it is, but ratherprovides a series of music performances and events to catch theattention of viewers. The director uses split-screen in an innovationmanner to take the full advantage of widescreen. The split screenhelps to show the performers in different angles and perception aswell as to compress the narrative. However, the documentary helps tonarrate the tiny unrehearsed moments that occurred during thefestival. Interposed with the music, the documentary shows someaspects of the townspeople, for example, a man says, &quotKids arehungry, you gotta feed `em. Right?&quot Other instances include thefamed caution about ‘bad acid,’ the Port-O-San man who divulgesthat he has a son in the crowd after dabbing a few units, and theArmy dropping flowers, blankets, and food from the helicopter.

The documentary depicts the festival in a different light. Thedocumentary depicts the event as the largest concert in terms ofattendance ever. However, close analysis shows that the area had aself-sufficient society built around, and the festival was soonopened to all people. In addition, the film does not represent thefestival to show the glaring challenges that occurred such as peoplescrambling to get in, drug use, and traffic gridlock, but it showsthe social and cultural values that stemmed from the festival. Infact, it focuses on the successful areas of the festivals but failsto focus on the negative issues that emanated from the festival. Therepresentation afforded in the film is deceptive and focuses onpresenting the festival in a successful light. For example, thedocumentary leaves out the debate about letting people in free andthe rampant drug use. In this regards, by leaving out, or glossingover certain aspects of the festival Wadleigh, Maurice, and Langcompel viewers to focus on another narrative of the festival – amore successful one. However, the festival was not logistically asuccess in terms of production.

While from commissioned reports of the festival as well as interviewswith staff and patrons alike it can be safely assumed that thefestival was not a success overall in terms of production – this isnot shown in the documentary. In fact, the documentary goes to greatlengths to avoid this and to show a festival that while having someincidents was largely successfully produced. Some incidents occurredduring the three days of the festivals, as well as in the daysleading up to Woodstock that are either glossed over or ignored inthe documentary. Woodstock depicts a festival largely withoutmajor incident – which is just not true. The tearing down of thefestival, for example, created numerous safety concerns for the crowdas well as led to a reduction of fees collected. During the 1960sand even today, most festivals generate their profits from feescollected from the crowd thus, the tearing down of the fence meantthat the festival was a failure in terms of financial success.However, the documentary represents the tearing down of the fence asa trivial matter as it shows how it was celebrated and championedrather than how it affected the success of the festival negatively.

The demolition of the festival fence caused inundation and theoverwhelming of the roads leading to the festival thus, the trafficbecame a standstill. In this regards, access to food, water, medicalsupplies, and emergency services became a problem. The festival hadprovided two helicopters, as they had not anticipated an influx ofpeople to transport people and supplies to the festival. However, theroads became backed up for miles after the demolition of the fenceleading to numerous challenges in the operations. In the second dayof the festival, the New York State issued announcements for peopleto donate whatever food, blankets, clothing, and emergency goods theycould. In addition, the state together with the US Army airliftedand dropped thousands of pounds of food to those attending thefestival. However, the documentary does not convey this sense ofurgency and alarm but rather it manipulates the events to follow thecounterculture and values of the community. The film ignores thisurgency and alarm and uses it to appeal to the counterculturemovement. During the film (1:38:34), a helicopter flies overheadduring an interview with Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang. Theinterviewer asks Kornfeld, “What are they doing?”, Kornfeldresponds “They’re dropping flowers, which is a fabrication ofwhat really happened.


Thefilm takes an familiar look at the Woodstock festival by mostlylooking at the positive things of the festivals. Although thedocumentary engages the viewer on the negative aspects of thefestival such as marijuana use, it does so in a shallow manner.Events such as muddy lands and the collapse of the fence do not takea large part of the documentary. In addition, the documentary addssome aspects that did not occur during the festival includedperformances by bands that were not included in the original film,post credits tributes to performers, and organizers, and bonusfootage of some performances. However, the representation of thecounterculture movement is the most significant component of thedocumentary. The film reprises and transcends the music and thecounterculture movement of the festival as well as documents thevibrant and rebellion attitude of the youth. Despite the success ofthe documentary and its representation of the festival, itmanipulates and misrepresents some data such as on the success of thefestival, the challenges experienced during the festival, and druguse. Misrepresentation of facts and events in documentaries allowsthe viewers to cultivate a different perception than the perceptionthey would have created had the representation presented the actualdata and events.


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