7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
An amazing mess of a movie about an amazing mess of an era...
madsagittarian from Toronto, Canada
26 August 2006
This whacked-out documentary is about the ill-fated Randall's Island
rock festival of 1970, which was a financial bust, due to its being
picketed by a coalition of 21 radical groups (including such people as
The White Panthers and the Weather Underground), chiefly because they
wanted the capitalist pigs to give back to the counterculture that made
them millionaires in the first place. Among the list of demands was
$100,000 bail for a Black Panther, and 10,000 free tickets.
Nonetheless, the fences fell because of the demonstrations, and the
venue was overrun with freeloading gate-crashers. As a result, many
performers refused to play, even though they were paid half in advance.
(One scene has a wimpy exec having the unenviable task of telling the
ugly crowds that Sly and the Family Stone wouldn't be showing up.)
In order to pad out this documentary, some fictional footage was shot
years later, featuring DJ Murray the K taking calls from people
relating what's going down at Randall's Island. Also, there is an actor
who portrays the concert promoter. In one pivotal scene, he meets with
the demonstrators. And since he is an African-American who has worked
his way out of the ghetto, he asks why he is the one who has to solve
their problems (remembering that these groups feature a lot of well-fed
And truthfully, he has a point. This is a volatile argument in one
angry, sarcastic movie. THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED is perhaps the best film
I've seen that describes the dichotomy of 60's counterculture.... where
hippies who utter peace and love, or people who take the stances of
radicals, use these identities as excuses to freeload off of other
people's hard work. What is even more incredible is that this
documentary makes this point with its ridiculous fictional footage!
And amidst the documentary footage of people bitching that they paid 21
dollars for this event, and some random clips of the performers who did
play, -Mountain ("Mississippi Queen"), Van Morrison ("Come Running")-
we see footage by artists who were never there! The Doors' "People are
Strange" performance film (later featured in their "Dance on Fire"
video collection), is prominently featured. While at first this seems
like a silly way to give more running time to the movie, it nonetheless
makes sense featuring Jim Morrison, the poster boy of chaos and
disorder, amidst a backdrop that is out of control.
Similarly, we see snippets of Angela Davis, Richard Nixon, Vietnam, The
Red Berets and Malcolm X interspersed throughout, and the choice of
music becomes more symbolic. When we hear Steppenwolf, the song is
"America". The movie concludes with Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled
Banner", which although played at Woodstock (3 Days of Peace and Love),
is in a perfectly Satanic context here.. summarizing this hour-long
treatise of a nation (and a generation) out of control.
Sometimes the most profound things occur by accident. This scruffy,
out-of-control of a movie is the perfect metaphor of the scruffy,
out-of-control generation it eulogizes.
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