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Published by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. CLICK FOR NEWSPAPER DELIVERY
Friday, August 17, 2001

Woodstock flashback

‘My Generation’ captures the vibes, rituals of three world-famous concerts

 

 


Contributed photo
With the new Starz film ‘My Generation,’ acclaimed filmmaker Barbara Kopple notes similarilties and differences between the original Woodstock in 1969 and its sequels in ‘94 and ‘99.

Woodstock. The word brings back memories - flashbacks in some cases to anyone born within the last 50 years. It’s one of those where-were-you-when moments, and the festival’s three editions are forever logged in the history books of rock ’n’ roll.
  The new movie My Generation is the first comprehensive film to look at what it meant to be at Woodstock in 1969, ’94 and ’99. Filmmaker Barbara Kopple spliced used and unused footage from the original Woodstock film and cut it with her own material from the two festivals within the last decade to complete the circle.
  My Generation premieres on Starz at 7 p.m. tonight, the 32nd anniversary of the original Woodstock.
  For me, there was a palpable, almost tangible feeling of this community of people sort of coming together, said Michael Lang, who produced each Woodstock concert. Everybody who sort of came close to it felt this incredibly strong excuse the word, but vibration that was coming from this happening. And that’s something I’ll never forget. And I don’t think anybody who touched it would ever forget.
  Kopple owns two Best Documentary Oscars for her strike-related films Harlan County, U.S.A. (1971) and American Dream (1989) but that’s not to say she’s not experienced in the musical arena.
  In 1980 she worked on the concert-documentary No Nukes, and she also directed 1997’s Wild Man Blues, which followed auteur Woody Allen touring Europe with his New Orleans Jazz Band. She agrees with Lang that Woodstock’s real worth was found not only in the music, but the communal gathering.
  People really need to have a sense of community, a sense of ritual, a sense of being together, listening to music that they love, said Kopple in a recent interview in Los Angeles. And even though the times are different, we’re all very similar, wanting to be able to connect.
  As much as the festivals were similar, they took place years apart, hosted drastically different bands and drew vastly distinctive crowds. What exactly were those differences, from the perspective of someone who was as close to the festivals as Lang?
  In ’69, there was this sort of amazement that everybody felt, just in terms of the numbers of people that were there, said Lang, and I think the ’60s was kind of an interesting decade for us growing up, for those of us who grew up then. And you felt kind of disconnected from society in general.
  Then to come to a place and see these countless numbers of people, suddenly you realize that people that you thought were in the hundreds were in the hundreds of thousands, and that led to this bonding, I believe. It was just such a surprise. I think that in the ’94 and ’99 events, that was more or less anticipated. People came with the expectations of having that kind of experience because they had seen then film or they had been driven crazy by their parents or whatever.
  Specifically speaking on the differences of the last two Woodstocks, Kopple said the ’94 concert happened when kids were thought of as worthless slackers, while during the ’99 event, youths everywhere were becoming millionaires in the dot-com rush.
  We were very media-savvy in 1994 and 1999, she said.
  A similarity among all three festivals was the profit margin. Lang swore that none of the concerts made any money surprising, given the hundreds of thousands of people in attendance.
  We did not make money on Woodstock ’69 until much later, he said. Unlike Warner Bros., who made tens of millions on the film, that was just bad planning on our part. The subsequent two also did not earn a profit. And you might ask: Why do you keep doing them? And we don’t have a really good answer, other than the experience of putting them on and the experience of attending them, I think, makes them worthwhile.
  
  Contact pop culture/media critic at 886-3688 or bacar@caller.com.
  


Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at bacar@caller.com


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