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Glastonbury (2006)

 -  Documentary | Music  -  14 April 2006 (UK)
6.6
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A documentary on the 30th anniversary of Britain's best-known music festival.

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A documentary on the 30th anniversary of Britain's best-known music festival.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The mud. The music. The madness.

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Documentary | Music

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Rated R for nudity, drug use, language and some sexual content | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

14 April 2006 (UK)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,179 (USA) (23 February 2007)

Gross:

$7,317 (USA) (6 April 2007)
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repetitious but enjoyable documentary
9 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

With well over a hundred thousand attendees per year, The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is a famed counterculture musical event held in the English countryside not far from where the mystical Neolithic monument, Stonehenge, is located. Comparisons to Woodstock are clearly inevitable, but whereas Woodstock was basically a one-time thing, The Glastonbury Festival has been an annual event dating all the way back to 1970. Some of the styles and attitudes may have changed over the years, but the spirit of free love, political consciousness-raising, New Age mysticism and sheer unadulterated rebellion for which the festival is famous still remains.

Julien Temple, the director of the documentary entitled simply, "Glastonbury," brings an almost patchwork quality to her film, indiscriminately splicing together grainy footage from the earlier festivals with far clearer images from the much more recent past. She doesn't identify which year any particular sequence is from, so one minute we'll be watching hippies and flower-children "doin' their thing" in the meadows and the mud, followed the next by spike-haired punk-rockers head-banging their way into mind-altered oblivion.

The glue holding this excessively long, frequently repetitious and somewhat unwieldy film together is Michael Eavis, the idealistic yet deeply pragmatic festival organizer whose running commentary illuminates the history behind Glastonbury that he himself lived through and indeed helped to create. He discusses the changes he's seen in the participants over the years, acknowledges some of the more crassly commercial aspects of the event, and recounts a few of the less savory moments that have come close to spelling the end for the festival itself. The latter include the occasional run-ins he and his fellow celebrants have had with both the law and some of the more disgruntled residents of the town nearby.

But, clearly, the main reason for checking out "Glastonbury" is for the music, and, indeed, the festival has played host to a surprisingly eclectic mixture of musical performers and styles in the four decades since it first came into existence. Heavy metal, reggae, acid rock, electro, blues - all these genres and then some have found a home at Glastonbury. Some of the more well-known performers in the movie include Bjork, David Bowie, Coldplay, The Velvet Underground, Radiohead and Tangerine Dream. It's a pity that we are treated to little more than snippets of each of their acts, but even in small doses they create quite a tasty little smorgasbord for die-hard music lovers to sample.


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