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The rise and decline of the popular conceptions of hippiedom are well depicted in the documentary; indeed, it the best that I have seen of similar works produced locally in the Bay Area and nationally, typically with focus on 1968, the year after the so-called Summer of Love. I am an academic hippie myself, age 62 at the time of this review, and was present at the Gathering of Tribes, the formal start of the period, and have lived through all the depicted events before and after. Most other documentaries failed to emphasize the key spiritual component of the cultural revolution. Yes, it was sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but it was also spirituality and consciousness studies that eventually led to environmental/ecology movements, cognitive neuroscience, and psychoimmunology, as well as the increasing popularity of Buddhism in the United States and the development of world music appreciation. As described, all the hippie wannabes spoiled the scene, did not understand the ideologies nor the proper use of entheogens. The popular image of hippies was of them, not the more thoughtful, experimental, and realized post-Beats, the pioneers who led the way. [Peter Coyote's use of B***S*** was bleeped from the PBS broadcast, but we do not need such censorship on the DVD.] Unfortunately, the documentary is too short, merely an hour, making the price of the DVD a tad too much. Still, if you want a proper introduction to the rise of this American Experience, yet influencing the nation as much as the Vietnam War, then this DVD is for you.
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on November 21, 2008
This film left me longing for the 60's San Francisco.I was 14 during the Summer of Love,often at Golden Gate Park for the free concerts, and we were protesting something called The Vietnam War? A more innocent San Francisco existed back then. The movie didn't realize that 1967 was the beginning of this cultural revolution which continued for 10 more years!
It did however point out that 1967 defined the City, and its mark is, and forever shall be, indelible.
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on January 2, 2008
Though just an hour, this film manages to communicate, with depth, an essential part of the American mind. It shows divisions our society continues to experience. It shows the lost dream of the 60s movement. I'm 44; I missed the 60s, but could feel it in the air when younger. This film helped me comprehend the what, why, and how. A clip of Ronald Reagan railing against LSD as governor of California helped me understand how we moved from being the society of civic duty, in which accumulation of massive wealth was viewed with suspicioun, to the "me society" of the 80s that we still experience. Really, in one hour, snippets communicate enormous volumes of information. To me, the film does not one-sidely glorify the summer of love. It shows the summer's positive and negative affects on society. I think it shows how the extremes of that time led to the backlash in which we live today. Maybe you'll see it differently. In any case, it is essential viewing - especially for anyone who did not live in, as an adult, the pre-Reagan era of American thought.
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on January 13, 2010
Peter Coyote narrates this documentary, which takes a look back at the infamous Summer Of Love. San Francisco was a haven for idealist youths during the summer of 1967, who were looking for the great utopia. The film shows how overwhelmed the Haight Ashbury neighborhood became, from the huge influx of young people that summer.

The film points out that by the time the summer of 1967 was over, the hippie hordes had begun leaving the Haight, and moving to the country. The hippies even staged a mock funeral march through the Haight, to signify the 'death' of the love vibes, that they felt were rapidly dwindling there.

Even before the Summer Of Love was over, the Haight district was already suffering. Increasing crime rates, hard drugs filtering into the area, and inadequate resources to accommodate the scores of
hippies in residence there, all took a serious toll on the Haight neighborhood.

I recommend this film, for those that want to revisit the Summer Of Love, and/or find out just what it was all about.
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This fine although somewhat short documentary gives us a rather good understanding of the 1967 "Summer of Love" in San Francisco as hippies and other young people from all over the nation gathered together to try to experience a utopian world in which money and materialism were shunned while peace and love were embraced. Of course, the truth is more than just that: some of these people were occasionally using a lot of really rather dangerous drugs that could result in their having "a bad trip;" and the eventual overcrowding of the Haight-Ashbury district became so intolerable that many of the original hippies fled to communes east of San Francisco or elsewhere.

Without giving it all away (and I assure you I won't), the film starts by telling us briefly about the "beatnik generation" that loved to gather in coffee shops and read poetry. The women didn't exactly bother getting their hair done every week; they were into natural experiences and they didn't care about fitting into society. The "hipsters," or "hippies" as they came to be called, were a somewhat different group. Like the beatniks, they shunned societal norms but they wanted to be outdoors enjoying nature; and they were much, much larger in numbers as they shared freedom of expression while dancing and making love with whomever they pleased.

The film does a great job of showing the rise and fall of the Summer of Love; we see how hippies gathered in January of 1967 in a large park in San Francisco for the first ever "be-in" and how word spread quickly that such freedom could be possible for anyone in the nation who made the trip to San Francisco. Soon more and more people were coming; and the ensuing events, both good and bad, helped to define the "Summer of Love." We also see how these hippies were able to subsist and that's terrific.

The archival footage is wonderful. We see Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, railing against drugs and the footage of tourists on a San Francisco tour bus is incredible! One woman looks absolutely horrified as the bus passes through the Haight-Ashbury district which was billed as the only "foreign tour" within the United States. There are interesting film clips of older people who had always lived on Haight Street, or "in the Haight;" and their reactions to the Summer of Love fascinated me.

Overall, American Experience - Summer of Love is a solid documentary about the summer of 1967 in San Francisco. I would give this five stars but it is a bit too succinct as another reviewer notes. Some more interview footage would have been wonderful, for example. I recommend this film for anyone studying the hippie social movement; and people interested in the history of San Francisco would do well to add this to their collections.
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on February 19, 2016
Having lived through that era I'd have to say within the time constraints allowed to this documentary they did an outstanding job capturing the essence of a historical **moment** for future generations to try and understand. It's not intended as a comprehensive statement of the entire late 60's and early 70's movement and transformation but even so it manages to convey a reasonably accurate sense of this as well as one of the early driving forces. In particular are the wonderful individual interviews with those who were actually 'there' combined with actual film footage. It's extremely rare to find any film or even documentary that can avoid stereotypes and agendas and put it out there as it was and for that I'd say this is a good historical gem.
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on March 7, 2015
This disc was in good condition, played well and had subtitles available.
As for the program, I enjoyed it, thought it covered a lot of issues for that year. I'm not a movie reviewer, I do love a variety of movies including documentaries. I'm interested in the subject of the 60's and would watch this over and over. I really think it could have been twice as long and still remained interesting. The summer of 1967 is described on the back cover as "the peak of the 1960's counter-culture movement". There was a lot of good and bad going on in the world at this time, so much dramatic change. I'd like to see this counter-culture "summer of love" movement happen again but with a lot more organization. I'm not deluded to think that it will, just think it would be nice. It was a once in a lifetime happening and I could spend many happy hours watching more of this history.
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"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there"

Written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas.

Summer of Love (produced 23 Apr. 2007) part of the American Experience series (Season 19, Episode 12) is an excellent documentary that incorporates statements and information from the people that were there at the time (summer 1967.)

Even thought there was a plethora of interviews the one that stands out from the rest is the interview/overview by Peter Coyote. The actual narrator is David Ogden Steers.

There is some good footage and many who read this review will be looking to see if they are there. We get a synopsis of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I personal was in Viet Nam at the time and did not have time to follow the news. (Volunteered and extended.)

In the end you will realize that this is not about that summer but the beginning of an attitude adjustment that is now part of our mainstream consciousness.
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on May 30, 2013
This Video is best and truest over-view of the "SUMMER OF LOVE" I have yet found.
I write from personal experience.

I arrived in Haight-Ashbury in early July of 1967. It was an unplanned, permanent detour from what was supposed to be a Post-High School ,pre-Draft, coming of age adventure. It was not my original destination. But I got swept up in the wave and landed where I quickly felt I belonged.
I had attended the Monterey Pop Festival 3 weeks earlier and was fascinated by the Music, spirit and style of the San Francisco Hippies. They seemed so full of life and fresh ideas. It was a relief and an escape from the LA Suburbs that I was raised in.
I shared a 3rd floor Victorian Flat on Ashbury St with a assortment of colorful, young, American Idealists 1 block from the Grateful Dead House.
For several wonderful months it was a great life! But it was an improvisation, Great flights of fancy - not so good at landing back on earth.
I left the Haight-Ashbury after the disastrous Summer of 1968. From time to time I revisit those amazing times trying to more clearly understand how they came about, what happened and why it still matters to me.
For anyone seeking to understand the SUMMER of LOVE, this Video is very helpful.
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on May 15, 2013
I teach a modern US history class, history of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. I show this documentary after we watch Woodstock to look into hippie culture and their view of "utopia" and how and why it didn't work. Very well done documentary.
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