Message to Love - The Isle of Wight Festival
TWO HOURS OF FOOTAGE BY THE WHO, THE MODDY BLUES AND OTHERS. INCLUDING THE LAST STAGE PERFORMANCES BY JIMI HENDRIX AND THE DOORS JIM MORRISON.
This documentary by Murray Lerner (From Mao to Mozart) was shot in 1970, but for many reasons was not shown to the public until 1995 in Great Britain. In an important way, it is the final chapter in an unofficial trilogy of concert films (along with Woodstock and Gimme Shelter) that together paint a picture of the highest and lowest points of Woodstock Nation politics: from mass goodwill to anarchy to outright stupidity. On the one hand, Message to Love is a rock & roll movie with several performances that are outright revelations (the Who's triumphant show, the Doors' "The End"), some that are awfully good (Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun"), and more than enough that are superfluous (Ten Days After, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Jethro Tull). On the other hand, Lerner's cameras are trained on the increasingly testy relationship between nomadic hippies who travel a long way to see the show but refuse to pay, and concert producers who resort to using guard dogs, cops, and aluminum walls to keep crashers at a distance. Just how bad does the mood become after several days of this? Check out the scene in which Joni Mitchell breaks down in tears after singing her ode to peace and love, "Woodstock," before this lot. In an era when we've become used to extraordinary security and high ticket prices at rock concerts, it's perhaps hard to grasp what the fuss was about at the Isle of Wight. But Lerner's amazing film helps a viewer get a sense of what was really at stake in that period before rock & roll was a corporate matter, and when kids naively thought it was theirs for the taking. --Tom Keogh
- Interview with the director
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Time to redo this, in a deluxe package with a book, new dvd story with complete performances and no performances unless you get to see the performer (ie. Donovan for example), not just hear the music and see footage interspersed.
There however were some exceptional performances by many artists, many who are no longer with us and need to be seen. Some performances were edited and cut short, but then again, how do you as a filmaker try to fit a weekend into a presentable time contraint for viewing. Taking this into consideration, they did a good balance between the performers and the 'gate crashers' and the audience. This is a documentary more than a rock show.
In August of 1970 - the same time as the Isle of Wight festival, I was at the Sky-River Rock Festival outside the little town of Washougal, Washington. This festival was much different than the Isle of Wight in that there were only 30-40 thousand people and there was still the presence of peace and love and everyone shared whatever they had with their neigbors next to them. The only fatality during the whole weekend was an elderly man who was leaning over a bridge with binoculars trying to get a look at some hippy chicks skinny dipping in the river, fell over and hit his head on a rock and drowned. I don't remember any gate crashers and if there was, I think most of the people would have looked down on them. Yes, bands need to eat, the carpenters who build the stage, the permits etc., etc. all cost money, so why shouldn't people pay to go??
This is deffinately worth buying, but I'd HIGHLY recomend starting out with the Complete Monterey Pop Festival DVD, when and where 'it' all begin. Sure wish I had been there...!!