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Woodstock (40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition)

Joan Baez , Richie Havens , Michael Wadleigh    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 64.99
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This director’s cut of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music, released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of that legendary concert event, has to be one of the most impressive Blu-Ray releases of 2009 or any other year--and that’s even before you put the discs in your player. The box is designed to resemble a faux fringe jacket (with an iron-on patch attached), and inside are all manner of shiny bells and whistles, including a lucite paperweight with images from the event, a reprint of LIFE Magazine’s original festival feature, and reproductions of various Woodstock memorabilia, right down to notes left by concertgoers ("Please meet me in front of stage. I have your insulin pills") and a three-day ticket to the event. And hey, if you’re looking for subtitles in Finnish, Thai, or Polish, you’ve come to the right place.

The movie itself now weighs in at nearly four hours long, and is presumably the way director Michael Wadleigh wanted it in the first place. The Blu-Ray transfer is definitely an upgrade, as is the soundtrack, which was originally recorded on 8-track tape under less-than-ideal conditions. (Using modern digital technology, audio engineer Eddie Kramer, who was hunkered down in what passed for a recording booth at the Woodstock site, has painstakingly restored the soundtrack--even bringing in some of the musicians to re-play their original parts, as on Santana’s “Evil Ways,” one of the previously unreleased bonus performances. Considering that the event is something of a sacred cow by now, this trick may strike some as blasphemous. Then again, this is hardly the first time that a live concert recording has been sweetened, re-recorded, or otherwise enhanced. In fact, it'd be hard to find one that wasn't. And the additions would have gone largely unnoticed if we hadn't been told about them.) In the end, though, there’s only so much improvement possible, and Woodstock was never about technical brilliance anyway. Nor was it mostly about the music, either. Nor was it mostly about the music, either. There are some terrific performances, from acoustic numbers by Richie Havens and Crosby, Stills & Nash to powerful electric contributions from Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, and Joe Cocker. But the truth is that Monterey Pop, which happened two years earlier, was the more exciting concert, and of the several artists who appeared on both bills (including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, and others), all of them made better music at the California festival. But Woodstock was always less a concert than an overall cultural happening, and Wadleigh and his crew, often employing an effective split-screen technique, do a superb job of corralling and conveying the remarkable atmosphere and spirit of it; you didn’t have to be there to recognize that this was the zenith of the Age of Aquarius (it was also the twilight; with Altamont looming, things would never be this peaceful and idealistic again).

Of principal interest on the second disc will be two hours of additional musical performances, including both additional tunes by those who are in the main feature and appearances by five artists who for various reasons (ego, money, quality, time) never made it into the film at all; of the latter, Creedence Clearwater Revival is excellent, Paul Butterfield and Johnny Winter are good, Mountain is mediocre, and the Grateful Dead, with an interminable (38 minutes!) "Turn on Your Love Light," are awful (a special Blu-Ray-only feature lets users organize this material as they see fit). Meanwhile, "From Festival to Feature," a new, hour-long look at the making of the movie, is absorbing and minutely detailed. The Amazon-exclusive content (included on disc 2) is an additional 20 minutes of never-before-seen performance footage in high definition from Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Country Joe and the Fish plus three bonus featurettes. --Sam Graham


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Shikata TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
i hate unnecessary trinkets and filler and the ONLY way to get the extra songs is to buy either this collector's edition, or the blu-ray. i even went a step further and bought from amazon.COM to get the FOURTH disc (amazon.com ONLY) ....

this fourth disc contains 3 extra songs (& 3 extra featurettes) NOT INCLUDED
in the standard box set.

the main feature is now split over 2 dual layered dvds (instead of a double sided, single layered disc - the previous dvd release)

the color and grain are much improved. the sound is great too, 5.1 for the extra songs disc as well .....

the standard extra songs are a delight, and one WISHES there were more ...
perhaps they're holding off for the 50th annivesary ???

while the 2 disc version (feature film only) is $19.99, THIS 3 disc version is $48.99 .....

what do you get for the extra 28.99 ????

3rd disc of extra songs (EXCELLENT)
a collection of 'featurettes' on the making of (ok, but still your classically 'bad' studio made filler-featurettes) a REAL doc, made in the spirit of the film would've been much more classier ....
a scaled down reprint of the LIFE magazine 'woodstock' issue (VERY NICE)
a 'woodstock' patch (I DON'T CARE)
an envelope with a few reprints of some of the original handwritten notes/announcements that were read over the PA and a reproduction of the 3-day ticket (I DON'T CARE)
a LUCITE display with images from the festival (I DON'T CARE)
i'll mention the 'featurette' on the bethel museum, but it's more like a pathetic COMMERCIAL for the place rather than something genuine that was made for THIS release.....
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and dirty June 26 2004
Format:DVD
Although I was a teenager soon after this concert, I somehow never got around to seeing the moving until this year. (I guess concert films don't get screened frequently on terrestrial TV.) So over the years I've become more familiar with the triple LP of the movie and, of course, the many posters the rock stars in heroic poses that dominated the early 1970s -- i.e. the Who's Roger Daltrey, Jimi Hendrix and Ten Years After's Alvin Lee.
Despite the mud and the squalor, this is an extraordinarily beautiful film, with the screen often breaking up into two or three segments. (Note on the closing credits the name of Martin Scorsese on the production team.)
It's well worth contrasting this movie with the DVD of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. Only a year separates the two concerts, but the late 1960s idealism of Woodstock gets replaced by prototype British vandalism. The Who perform at both concerts, and make an equally good account of themselves. Daltrey's emotional delivery of 'See Me, Feel Me' helps to explain why 'Tommy' became such a phenomenon in America. Hendrix also performed at both, but his meandering solo at Woodstock was not of the highest standard.
The other highlight of the show was Santana, a Latino band only just beginning to establish themselves in California at the time. As others have noted, the drum solo by Mike Shrieve is impressive for one so young. As with the Who, Santana's album sales will have multiplied as a result of their Woodstock performance.
It's interesting how many great acts weren't at Woodstock -- e.g. Joni Mitchell (despite her song about the concert!), the Doors, Bob Dylan or the Stones. The first two clearly realised how important these festivals were in the breaking of artists into markets, and so they appear on the Isle of Wight DVD.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I was there April 14 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This isn't your run-of-the-mill concert video packed with edited performances. This is loaded with performances from the original (and, as far as I'm concerned, the ONLY) three-day festival of peace, love, and music. (...)it's loaded with interviews of kids coming into town for the festival, enjoying it, and leaving it (I felt really sorry for the cleanup crew). A lot of the time, it's a split screen so you'll find yourself using the rewind button quite often to catch anything you may have missed.
Interesting to find out that Woodstock was the second performance for Crosby, Stills, and Nash (in the days before Young). Ritchie Havens was out of sight, Jimi Hendrix far out, and Country Joe McDonald a blast. Rock and roll and folk music came together for a once-in-a-lifetime event that could never be duplicated (why did people botther trying?) and, truth be told, I'm deeply jealous of the people who were there.
The coolest part of all was when Max Yasgur, owner of the farm the festival was held on, got on stage and said that Woodstock was proof that young people could get together and have three days of peace, love, and music and nothing but three days of peace, love and music.
This video is a first hand glimpse into the turmoil that was the 1960's (e.g. older people arguing amongst themselves that the festival was wrong because the young kids were having sex and getting high while others thought it better that they were there instead of being in Viet Nam). You can feel the tension and the too cool atmosphere of the festival through the TV.
Ah, nothing like the 1960's. What a decade!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
This is a great movie, it has great quality and great music, I highly recommend this, well worth the watch.
Published 2 months ago by anthony melaragni
5.0 out of 5 stars shipped here fast
putting this under the Christmas tree, was shipped here fast and arrived in good shape. Can`t wait to watch this and do some singing and dancing.
Published 5 months ago by April Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director's Cut (40th Anniversary...
I chose this rating because I was 15 years old at the time and love the bands and performers
Excellant video
yes I would definitly recommend this video
Published 9 months ago by Alexander Maclean
4.0 out of 5 stars Woodstock '69 Blu-ray
It brought out so much more detail of the reality of how it was. This is a great way to slide into the atmosphere and re-live an era long past.
Published 10 months ago by Francis Pallier
5.0 out of 5 stars Been there done that!
I was there, from what i can remember the video is true to life so if you would like to know what life was about back in the
60's & part way into the 70's this is it,
Published 11 months ago by Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace & Music
I'm glad Woodstock resurfaced after so many years. I use to have the LP and VHS, but think it disappeared with the Ex. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good history festival
I'm very happy everytime I listen to this DVD, this is a very good concert with good sound for that time. If you're a Baby Boomer, this will bring memories in time, excellent.
Published on July 3 2011 by J. Lamothe
5.0 out of 5 stars Woodstock, really peace and music event
1969 ! Year of the possible dream. Year of all dreams. This document shows that all is possible if we want.

Beautiful image of the moving generation !
Published on Dec 30 2009 by Alain Girard
5.0 out of 5 stars Took me back
An incredible package of Woodstock music and information. Watching the DVDs and reading the LIFE reprint gave me a small chance to revisit a milestone time from my teenagehood. Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2009 by JD Canada
2.0 out of 5 stars woodstock (40th anniversary ultimate collectors edition)
AS SOMEONE WHO WAS AT WOODSTOCK, I EXPECTED MORE HOURS OF VIDEO.
I WISH THEY WOULD RELEASE THE ENTIRE FOOTAGE OF ALL THE PERFORMER(S) IN THE ORDER THAT THEY APPEARED INSTEAD... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2009 by Dominick Postilio
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