woodstock crowd

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation is a new documentary film directed by Barak Goodman. The movie tells the story of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York from the people who experienced it and showcasing some never-before-seen footage. It debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

The story of Woodstock is undeniably very impressive. This truly is an event that defined a generation and would shape the music industry for years to come. The name Woodstock has become synonymous with music, so this film is undeniably going to be a hit with people who are nostalgic for the era. However, this is a trend that has been capitalized upon successfully many times before.

This movie does an interesting thing which has not been done by most other music documentaries, and that is focusing on the experiences of the attendees. Whereas most documentaries hoped to give you a feeling of having been there by showing you up-close-and-personal footage, this film allows people to tell their anecdotes, filling in some of the gaps and allowing you to see the bigger picture.

Additionally, the movie’s theme of community really shines through and couldn’t be more relevant today. The people who participated in this event were all about peace and love, so we could learn something from them about caring for one another and coming together to experience this communal feeling of joy. Although some bad decisions were made in that time, their intentions were always good.

woodstock rain

In terms of pacing, the film was mostly solid. It is slow towards the beginning of the movie, as the lead-up to the event is being discussed, but when the film does get into the actual event, it is fascinating, especially if you are a fan of any of the musicians who performed at the festival. Furthermore, many of the anecdotes being told are humorous, so there is a bit of fun in that.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Woodstock documentary without great music, and there is plenty of that. The movie presents plenty of performance clips from recognizable well-known names that are sure to have you reacting along with the people who were there. The sequence involving Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” was particularly moving.

On a technical level, the film was mostly solid, if a tad conventional. It is tough to evaluate a movie like this, as Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 concert film Woodstock was such a defining movie of the genre and it is unlikely that anything will ever stack up to it, but this film is good in its own right. The editing and use of footage is interesting, and the sound mixing is great.

Overall, Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation is a documentary that should surely shoot to the top of any music lover’s watchlist. Although it isn’t particularly revolutionary, it does provide an interesting snapshot of the event.

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation is now playing in theaters.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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