Taking Woodstock

For all the talk that the fifties and sixties were ‘simpler times’, I can show you Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Suez Crisis, the Space Race, McCarthyism, Stonewall. But The Woodstock Festival, which crash-landed in a dairy field in New York State in the late 60’s, was to all intents and purposes, a giant pop-culture counterpoint to all that angst, a peaceful, joyous, somewhat psychedelic “coming out” of a million and a half people.

I was too young to know anything about Woodstock at the time, and having been raised in its aftermath as a preppy drone, I’d always assumed it was full of slap-able barefoot hippies going all hey-shoo-wow on us. I never thought for a moment that it might be something with which I would identify irrevocably – an anti-establishment explosion delivered without violence or polemic. That’s the true surprise of Ang Lee’s snapshot-of-the-times, Taking Woodstock, a quirky, thoughtful, intimate look at how the festival came about, and its impact on some of the people who were there.

I didn’t absolutely love the film (amongst other things, the soundtrack, of all things, is maddeningly understated) but I did love the idea of the film, and I relished the positive thoughts and the feelings it engendered about celebrating humanity and diversity and common goodness. Sadly, I’m probably the kind of guy that still wouldn’t have gone to Woodstock first time round, but at least there’s the consolation that I would have regretted that decision…..

Continue reading “Taking Woodstock”