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Wattstax (30th Anniversary Special Edition) (2004)

Isaac Hayes , Richard Pryor , Mel Stuart  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isaac Hayes, Richard Pryor, Jesse Jackson
  • Directors: Mel Stuart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000294U6E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,416 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wattstax (30th Anniversary Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Rolling Down a Mountain" Issac Hayes performs the origianl 1973 version's finale
  • Complete Albert King performance of "I'll Play the Blues for You"
  • Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On August 20, 1972, more than 100,000 people attended what came to be known as "The Black Woodstock." Wattstax - The Special Edition is the 30th anniversary release of the film that documented that historic event and includes the once-lost original ending featuring Isaac Hayes' performances of "Theme From Shaft" and "Soulsville."

DVD Features:
Alternate endings:Original 1973 ending, performed by Isaac Hayes
Audio Commentary:Audio commentary by Chuck D, and music historian Rob Bowman Cast and crew commentaries including Isaac Hayes
DVD ROM Features:Links to Wattstax website and related sites
Theatrical Trailer:Original 1973 theatrical trailer 2003 Special Edition trailer

They called Wattstax the "black Woodstock," but there are many differences between that seminal hippie event and the 1972 concert documented in this 30th-anniversary special-edition reissue. Woodstock was all about peace, love, and music. Wattstax, held three years later in Los Angeles, had those elements as well; but as this 103-minute film reminds us, it was a more socio-politically charged event, with its emphasis on black pride and the simple opportunity for African Americans to assert that, in opening speaker Jesse Jackson's words, "I am somebody." There's also a good deal less music in this film than in the Woodstock movie. As the title suggests, a host of great Stax Records artists (including Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, the Staple Singers, Albert King, and show closer Isaac Hayes) performed, but much of Wattstax doesn't even take place inside the L.A. Coliseum, where the concert was held, but rather in the churches and shops and on the streets of Watts itself (music fans would be better off checking out the Wattstax double CD). Wattstax, in fact, is much less a music movie than a chronicle of black life seven years after the Watts race riots, as well as what comedian Richard Pryor (who delivers several hilarious but scathing bits) calls "a soulful expression of the black experience." --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Come True...!!! November 9, 2004
I first discovered the album during my early years as a '70s funk, soul and black music fanatic (in the early 80's) and dreamed of one day actually being able to see the move... For years and years I waited and prayed... probably figuring that something that good had long been lost and destroyed... and finally... ! ! ! - - Although in all honesty the two records actually have much more music than the film, the film is an amazing portrait of urban black life, music and culture in that era... The blacksploitation films presented a fantasy version of it... Wattstax took the cameras out in the community and showed people being for real and talking about... well, life in general. - - and the high point... YES, definitely RUFUS THOMAS's performance, and also Johnnie Taylor at that club that looked like a scene out of THE MAC or some Rudy Ray Moore Film... as well as the less than enthuisiastic response of the audience during the Star Spangled Banner... (Film also features an incredible version of LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING which I don't remember being on the soundtrack (?) - - a commemoration of the tragic WATTS riots and a celebration of how the community was coming to terms and rebuilding itself, in addition to the poignance and political message, and a young (just getting discovered) Richard Pryor's "social commentary"- - the film is also delightfully dated... trust me, you KNOW its the early '70s ! ! ! The only downside is that its over before you knew it...
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Power to the people, let's go to the stands!" September 26, 2004
Even if the concert movie "Wattstax" had nothing else interesting in it, it would still be totally worth watching for the amazing sequence in which rhythm-and-blues legend Rufus Thomas (a bald, portly, middle-aged man who performs in a long-sleeved pink shirt tucked into red shorts over knee-high go-go boots) encourages the ecstatic crowd to spill out of the stands, onto the football field at the L.A. Coliseum, so they can do the Funky Chicken. They comply. At the end of the song, he tells the huge assortment of several hundred dancing fans that they have to return to their seats and, miraculously, again they comply. But when one odd, umbrella-twirling spectator is reluctant to leave the field, Thomas heckles and teases him then, fed up, asks the crowd to remove him. And, man, they comply; the umbrella man is gone within about 3.6 seconds.

Concerts like that just don't happen anymore and Wattstax, a 1972 festival held to mark the seventh anniversary of the Watts race riots, is a lot more than just a presentation of incredible music (by Thomas, the Staples Singers, the Bar-Kays, Albert King and Isaac Hayes). Director Mel Stuart (who, notably, also made "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory") filmed the entire concert but then decided to intercut footage of church services in the Watts area, man-on-the-street interviews about race (Ted Lange, who later went on to play Isaac on "The Love Boat," angrily weighs in) and very off-the-cuff comedy by Richard Pryor.

The pieces don't always mesh together - and I really wish Stuart hadn't felt compelled to interupt the sets by Albert King and others - but they're all fascinating in their own way and the music is tremendously good.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WATTSTAX July 23, 2004
I feel as though the current editorial review perhaps does a slight disservice surrounding the fact that the film does not exclusively feature the concert footage. When Mel Stuart originally looked at the footage from the show he has said that he felt as though the concert needed a context. It needed to be appreciated as being informed by (but not a mere reflection) of a distinct cultural experience. If he hadn't, we would be left with just the art and not the inspiration. Exploring these things together in his film makes for a rather interesting and fun time. So then, rather than offer a standard and totalizing explanation, he opted for interviews and episodic footage which includes among other things: churches, broken hearts, pimps, Love Boat bartenders, streetcorner philosophers, and Richard Pryor. The effect is the sense that blackness isn't a neat package. You see, while the film is a nice document of black power peaking, there are a lot of different definitions of blackness that are featured as much as there are the different kinds of music performed at the show. I would also note that the DVD includes the original footage of Isaac Hayes' performance (which due to issues w/ MGM) was cut before the film's release. Overall its an incredibly nice film. There's a lot of good music and the film definitely has a lot more to offer beyond being tagged unfortunately as the Black Woodstock. It's STAX records. Come on. Rufus' shorts, the Bar-Kays? hair, Johnnie Taylor and the pimps parade, the woman in the red dress, the innumerable samples Public Enemy got from this film...Try it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Worth The Wait September 8, 2004
I have waited years to see this. I know that there have been bootlegs of this film floating around for years, but I never seen it. I'm glad I've waited for a proper release as this has the true ending with Issac Hayes doing Shaft.

A truly amazing movie, which captures the essence of the culture, and gives you the insight of how things were during those times in the early 70's. So much emotion in it that, you feel like you are taking part of the event yourself.

I love the footage they had with people talking. I saw a couple of people that would go on to have a acting career in the film. I saw Issac from the Loveboat up on there and Ned the Whino( I forgot his real name ). I guess this is what got their acting career started.

The skits with Richard Pryor were comedy classics. So many people copied his style over the years.

I was amazed when Rufus Thomas got all those people to go back to their seats after they all came onto the field during his performance. It was one guy that didn't go back to his seat and Rufus was just clowning him and had everyone laughing at him. Priceless.

There had to been 100,000 people that attended that show and not one fight. If this were to happen today you would have had body bags galore out there. There is no respect in music now.

It's sad to think that Stax as record company would be no more just a few years later. Watching this movie, you couldn't even see that as a possibility. Probably the last great moment in soul music.

Just a classic film that I recommend to anybody that appreciates real soul music and its history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 days ago by Jon A.
5.0 out of 5 stars This concert and the interviews of other artists and local ...
This concert and the interviews of other artists and local people really capture the spirit of the time that this occurred. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Laura Jensen
5.0 out of 5 stars The blackest film ever.
This one of the blackest things I have ever seen. The other blackest thing was James Brown performing on Soul Train. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Aaron
5.0 out of 5 stars Well duh, this is a great film.
If you're looking for a video of the concert, move along. If you're looking for how the concert affected the Watts neighborhood, or for a cross-section of black America in this... Read more
Published 4 months ago by kate
4.0 out of 5 stars More of a documentary
I love Stax records, and after buying and loving the Stax/Volt DVD I decided to pick up the Wattstax DVD as well. Read more
Published 5 months ago by MJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe I found it.
I was so glad that I found this especially since I have searched for years for this dvd and the one time I did find it it was 3 times the price that I paid through Amazon. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Brenda Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars Wattstax is the Ultimate Music Experience!!!
Wattstax is like a concert of soulful talent and funky music. Richard Pryor does a hilarious performance while Isaac Hayes turns the motha out!! Read more
Published 13 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome DVD
Everyone that sees this DVD loves it! If you love the 70s and want to be entertained, then this is a must see! Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ms.Kay
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Bought this as a gift for my husband. Thought I was getting the concert. Instead, its a very boring documentary. He hated it! So disappointed.
Published 14 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars pure nostaglia!
I've never seen this movie until I bought it at a used cd store and I'm glad I did. It brought back fond memories of what I watched on TV back in the early 70s and what kinds of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by coralpink
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