Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival | Chicago Reader

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120 minutes · 1995

Documentary, Music documentary
A reported 600,000 people turned up at the 1970 Isle of Wight rock festival (only about a tenth of whom were paying customers), making this a bigger event than either Woodstock or Altamont. Murray Lerner's belatedly edited 1995 BBC documentary of that event, synthesizing some of the countercultural exhilaration of Woodstock with some of the political disillusionment of Gimme Shelter, is less dramatic than either of those films, but given the awesome lineup of pop stars, it's still quite a show: Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, Free, Taste, Tiny Tim, John Sebastian, Ten Years After, Donovan, the Moody Blues, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Joan Baez, and Jethro Tull. This is a movie constructed for shorter attention spans, so numbers tend to be brief or curtailed, and the clash between idealistic-anarchistic and capitalistic agendas at the festival, though absorbing, is never spelled out as clearly as it might have been. But it's nevertheless a precious and exciting historical document.

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