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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music: UCE



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#1 of 14 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 09 2009 - 06:02 AM

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Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music: Ultimate Collectors Edition

Directed By: Michael Wadleigh

Featuring: Richie Havens, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, The Who, Sha-Na-Na, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane, John Sebastian, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix


Studio: Warner

Year: 1970

Rated: R

Film Length: 224 minutes

Aspect Ratio: variable within 2.35:1 frame

Subtitles: 18 streams including English SDH

Release Date: June 9, 2009




The Film

Michael Wadleigh's documentary Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music immerses the viewer in the three day Music Festival that offered a defining moment for the American youth counter culture of the 1960s. Footage of many of the musical acts from the festival is intercut with segments documenting the goings on all around the grounds of Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York. Months of planning for the festival were eventually forced to be improvisationally altered when tens of thousands of attendees more than anticipated showed up at the site in the days leading up to the event. The farm more or less turned into an impromptu city of a hundreds of thousands of young Americans who somehow managed to get by for three days without any significant violence amid the chaos.

Wadleigh's documentary, included here in its expanded three hour and 44 minute director's cut, is a fascinating document of the time, created under hectic conditions where the filmmaking crew, out of necessity as much as aesthetic choice, were immersed in the Woodstock experience as much as the performers and attendees. Wadleigh wisely sent his crew armed with 16mm film cameras out among the masses to document the various activities that were going on when the music was not playing, and many of the images captured of Festival goers and locals playing in mud, eating, smoking, bathing, doing yoga, feeding the masses, cleaning toilets, making love, getting high and expressing unscripted viewpoints ranging from idyllic to paranoid have become as indelibly associated with the event as the performances themselves.

The musical line-up was something of a who's who of late 60s American rock and roll with British acts such as The Who, Ten Years After, and Joe Cocker mixed in as well. The line-up is heavily tilted towards blues and folk-based rock, which was especially fashionable at the time, although acts such as Sha Na Na and (my personal favorite performance) Sly & the Family Stone are on hand to provide the occasional change of pace. When choosing the performances to include in the film, Wadleigh made a deliberate effort to skew towards performances and lyrics that related to the event or even the particular point in the film into which the performance was inserted, resulting in a mix of hits and lesser known songs from various performers that contributed to the film's goal to communicate a shared experience of the event rather than a straight record of the musical performances. Along those lines, this was the first time I have ever sat through the director's cut from beginning to end, and by the end, I felt both immersed and exhausted. Jimi Hendrix's now legendary feedback soaked rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" (which today plays with a montage of other renditions at the Smithsonian Museum of American History's Star Spangled Banner Exhibit next to the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen it) offers up a perfectly executed climax to the proceedings. It is a fittingly symbolic representation of the perceived changing of the generational guard that permeated the event.

Wadleigh and his team of cinematographers and editors which included Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker (who, I understand, have worked together a few times since) assembled their miles of 16mm footage into a Panavision and 70mm widescreen spectacle through strategic creative use of split screen opticals. This sophisticated editorial style made split screen look a lot hipper than it did in Pillow Talk and influenced numerous future films, including some rampant psychedelic mirrored split-screen abuse in Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same a few years later. The 70mm blow-up release allowed them to take full advantage of multi-channel stereo sound for the film's "road show" engagements.

The Video

The film, which is essentially one long optical blow-up of footage shot on 16mm film and arranged across a Panavision frame at various aspect ratios depending on matting and split screen configurations, looks as impressive as its source will allow. Since most of the footage was shot with available light, some of the darker scenes will always look a bit murky. That being said, this presentation is substantially improved compared to the previous DVD and video releases, considerable clean-up appears to have been done to the image without wreaking havoc on the film's grain structure, and I cannot imagine it ever looking much better than this. The footage is all contained within a 2.35:1 aspect ratio area of the 16:9 frame, meaning that the producers refrained from repurposing/zooming the footage matted on all sides when possible. This was the right choice as the split screen effects work better when they have the same relative size increase as they had in the original theatrical presentation.

The Audio

The 5.1 sound mix is available via both a Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The TrueHD track is simply outstanding with amazing fidelity during the music numbers. The non-musical sequences are a bit more hit and miss, likely due to the production conditions, but are still generally very good. The 5.1 mix of the musical performances makes creative use of the surrounds, only occasionally straying into gimmickry such as when an annoying ping-pong stereo panning is applied to the chord build vocals during Sha Na Na's performance. The conventional Dolby Digital 5.1 track also sounded very good, although critical listening A/B comparisons will reveal mildly but noticeably reduced fidelity compared to the lossless TrueHD track.

The Extras

The first disc includes access to BD Live features which I was not able to evaluate on my musty dusty old-fashioned Blu-Ray player from a year and a half ago. Features are reported to be: Media Center, Live Community Screenings, and "My WB Commentary" which allows for user-generated webcam picture-in-picture video commentaries.

The majority of the special features appear on disc two and are arranged under various headings on the BD menus.

Under the heading of Behind the Story is the featurette: The Museum at Bethel Woods: The Story of the 60s and Woodstock. This featurette fills the whole 16:9 frame comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and runs four minutes and 33 seconds. Hosted by Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid, he provides some background on the museum located near the site of the Woodstock Festival, and various guests of the museum and attendees of the Festival offer on camera comments as well. It feels like a promo made to attract tourists to the museum, but does offer a few interesting glimpses of what is to be found there.

Under the heading of Additional Footage are the following three features, all presented in windowboxed 4:3 high definition video with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound:
  • Customize Your Own Woodstock Playlist allows the viewer to watch 18 additional musical performances not included in the director's cut of the feature film. Menu navigation options allow you to select songs in any order creating a playlist on the right side of the screen and then play them back in the order selected. Viewers not wishing to go to that much effort may also simply choose the included "Play All" feature to view all of the performances at once. The selectable songs are as follows:
    • Joan Baez - One Day at a Time (4:17)
    • Country Joe McDonald - Flying High (2:20)
    • Santana - Evil Ways (3:56)
    • Canned Heat - I'm Her Man (5:33)
    • Canned Heat - On the Road Again (10:49)
    • Mountain - Beside the Sea (3:39)
    • Mountain - Southbound Train (6:18)
    • Grateful Dead - Turn on Your Love Light (37:44)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - Born on the Bayou (5:12)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - I Put a Spell on You (4:10)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - Keep on Chooglin' (9:25)
    • The Who - We're Not Gonna Take It (9:07)
    • The Who - My Generation (7:36)
    • Jefferson Airplane - 3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds (5:40)
    • Joe Cocker - Something's Coming On (4:14)
    • Johnny Winter - Mean Town Blues (10:52)
    • Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Morning Sunrise (8:26)
    • Sha Na Na - Teen Angel (3:21)
    Note: The Who's famous sunrise performance of "We're Not Gonna Take It" was included in the feature film, but was edited down considerably from the full nine minute version included here.
  • [*]Opening of Festival (3:20) Is a montage of various shots of the grounds, musical acts, crew, and organizers orior to the festival cut to audio of radio promos, news reports, and stage announcements.[*]Closing of Festival (1:20) begins with post-show stage announcements encouraging people to help clean up followed by a montage of various Festival attendees filing out.

Under the heading of Woodstock: From Festival to Feature are a collection of 21 behind the scenes featurettes looking at everything from how the Festival came to pass, to how the film was produced and assembled, to how it was received by critics and audiences. They are presented in high-definition video (with two technical exceptions noted below) and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. The featurettes, along with their descriptions per the Warner Home Video press release are as follows:
  • The Camera (3:52): The Éclair NPR was the best camera around in 1969; Michael Wadleigh talks about why the Éclair was the right camera for this film.
  • 365,000 Feet of Film (2:03): The stories of how Dale Bell and his crew begged, borrowed and stole just enough film to document the festival.
  • Shooting Stage (2:45): Those up-close shots of performers didn’t just happen by magic; see how Wadleigh and his cameramen got those up close and personal shots of the performers.
  • The Line Up(2:38): The Who, Sha Na Na, Santana, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane and many more; how did all these bands get on the roster for the festival of a life time?
  • Holding the Negative Hostage (1:51): What does a filmmaker do when Technicolor is sending a copy of your negative to the studio without your permission? Well, you lock up the film and hire a lawyer.
  • Announcements(3:48): “Don’t take the brown acid” or maybe it was green. We’ll hear about all the strange and informative announcements heard during those three days of peace, love and enlightenment.
  • Suits VS. Longhairs (5:58): The clash between the hippie filmmakers and the Warner executives who didn’t understand what this film meant.
  • Documenting History (3:46): Find out from Michael Wadleigh and Dale Bell, along with filmmakers, where the idea of capturing this event on film came from.
  • Woodstock: The Journey (2:34): Some came by car, others by truck, a few came by helicopter but most walked to the most famous festival in history.
  • Pre-Production (3:06): We’ll find out how this production got off the ground and meet the members of the crew that made it happen.
  • Production (3:06): How many cameras were used? How much film did they go through? Did anyone sleep? All these questions and more will be answered here as we explore how Woodstock was captured on film.
  • Synchronization (1:32): How do you sync all this material with out any slates? No slate, no problem. With the help of an upright Moviola, Dale Bell, Michael Wadleigh, Eddie Kramer and the editors were able to make magic from miles of tape and film.
  • The Crowd (1:56): Half a million people of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages and sexes attended this historical event. We’ll hear stories about the number of people and how they all coexisted for three days with only minor incidents.
  • No Rain! No Rain! (3:18): Everyone talks about the rain at this event as if it were a character. It was. It set the tone, provided moments of danger, fun and disgust.
  • 3 Days in a Truck (2:05): Eddie Kramer heard some of the most amazing performances as he recorded this historic event. But during those three days of peace, love and music, he didn’t get to see any performances because he was stuck in a truck.
  • Woodstock Effect (3:26): The film, the event and the album catapulted many musicians into the limelight, changing their lives forever.
  • Living up to Idealism (5:06)(Note: There was no press release copy describing this and subsequent featurettes, so in my own words…): Various participants discuss the idyllic notions of the festival and how they look from a modern perspective
  • World’s Longest Optical (2:37): Filmmakers discuss how the film was assembled with the help of a team of experienced editors from 16mm sources for eventual presentation in 70mm with multi-track surround sound. Discussion includes how direction was communicated on the myriad split screens effects.
  • Critical Acclaim (6:43): Discussed the positive reception of the film from several key film critics as well as audiences.
  • Courtesy of The Museum at Bethel Woods: The Hog Farm Commune(3:19): Catches up with several members of the Hog Farm Commune including Wavy Gravy and Merry Prankster Ken Babbs, to discuss their Woodstock experience of feeding and otherwise administering aid to the Festival attendees.
  • Hugh Hefner and Michael Wadleigh: The Woodstock Connection (9:31): Begins with introductory comments from Hefner setting up some clips of an interview he conducted with Wadleigh on the Playboy After Dark television program in 1970. Footage of this archival interview is then intercut with additional contemporary comments from Hefner.

Note: The Hog Farm Commune and The Woodstock Connection featurettes appear to have been produced separately from the preceding nineteen featurettes. They both are encoded on disc as high definition video, but appear to be standard definition up-conversions. The Woodstock Connection featurette is 4:3 windowboxed for the modern Hefner interview segments even though they seem to have come from the same set of interviews that produced Hefner's comments in the preceding featurettes which appeared in high-definition filling the 16:9 frame. That being said, the Playboy After Dark archival interview footage looks outstanding although sometimes a bit odd since various people in the background of certain shots are obscured by Court TV-like blobs of smeared focus.

Interview participants in these 21 featurettes include: Wadleigh, Associate Producer Dale Bell, Festival Producer Michael Lang, Sha Na Na members Jacko Marcellino & Donny York, Santana musician Michael Carabello, Ten Years After members Ric Lee, Chick Churchill, & Leo Lyons, Lighting/Production Manager, & MC Chip Monck, Assistant to the Head of Operations Penny Stallings, Former WB VP Fred Weintraub, Jefferson Airplane Members Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, & Grace Slick, Editors/Assistant Directors Martin Scorsese & Thelma Schoonmaker, Johnny Winter, Assistant to the Head of Security and Community Affairs Lee Blumer, Hefner, Location Music Engineer Eddie Kramer, and Hog Farm Commune Members Lisa Low, Wavy Gravy, Ken Babbs, Jean Nichols, & Lisa Sipp.

Packaging

Deluxe packaging and physical extras are the hallmarks of Warner's "Ultimate Collectors Editions". In this case, the packaging is adapted from 1960s fashions with a fringed suede covered outer gift box complete with iron on dove and guitar Woodstock logo patch. Inside the sturdy gift box is a more conventional thin cardboard box with the following contents:
  • Standard 2-disc Blu-Ray case with both discs and a double-sided paper insert detailing the chapters of the main program on one side and the special features listing on the other.
  • A lenticular motion card in a lucite case with three separate images of the festival depending on one's viewing angle.
  • An envelope containing:
    • A replica Festival ticket
    • Replicas of five handwritten messages posted on scrap paper (in one case a scrap paper plate) at the Festival's information center
    • A two-sided fact sheet giving a "by-the-numbers" accounting of several facts about the Festival.
    • An eight-page promotional booklet with ads for the Museum at Bethel Woods as well as several pieces of Woodstock-themed merchandise including books, soundtracks CDs, commemorative Fender guitars, and a line of shoes from Carlos Santana.
Note: Advanced press releases indicated that a 60+ page re-print of a commemorative Life magazine issue would be included as well, but it was nowhere to be found in my review copy. The press release also indicated that "...all enhanced content listed ... is subject to change", so I will not grouse too much. The package is also individually numbered indicating what number out of 140,000 units it is.

Summary

Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music remains an indelible document of one of the defining events of the American youth movement of the 1960s. Warner's Ultimate Collectors Edition Blu-Ray disc pulls out nearly all the stops in presenting the film in its definitive form on high definition home video. Audio and video are substantially upgraded from previous releases and appear to squeeze every ounce of resolution out of the film's original 16mm and 8-track stereo source elements. Extras are highlighted by a generous number of bonus performances from the Festival presented in high definition video and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound as well as over 75 minutes worth of featurettes offering an in-depth behind the scenes look into both the festival and the film. The Ultimate Collectors Edition packaging is very cool (or is that groovy) and entertainingly echoes the 60s vibe of the film. Physical extras are mildly interesting, but I will probably not find myself revisiting them too often.

Regards,

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 14 Brandon Conway

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Posted June 09 2009 - 07:55 AM

Quote:
The package is also individually numbered indicating what number out of 140,000 units it is.

Interesting. Seems like Warner has plans to release it as a regular release down the road.

Great review! Posted Image

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#3 of 14 Terry Hickey

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Posted June 09 2009 - 08:19 AM

Walmart just has the standard size bluray case with the 2 discs with the paper insert for $29.96.
 

#4 of 14 TonyD

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Posted June 09 2009 - 01:23 PM

I might stop by Target to see how the Tambourine edition looks.
facebook.com/whotony

#5 of 14 Brian Husar

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Posted June 09 2009 - 03:47 PM

Great review. Watching the blu ray now. I agree with Ebert, this is probably the best American documentary. This is the Gone With The Wind of documentaries. I finally have the perfect version on home video. I am so glad Warners did what they did with That's Entertainment here, they kept the multi ratios within the original screen ratio of 2.35 (on That's Entertainment it was 1.85).

#6 of 14 Mike Frezon

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Posted June 10 2009 - 02:05 AM

Hey Ken: Awesome review!

I will definitely check this out when the barebones version comes to light.

One tiny correction. The concert took place on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, NY. There's no community of Bethel Woods. I lived in the area for six years in the 1980s.

Believe it or not, there are many people there who still don't like to speak about that whole experience. It was quite a shock to a rural Catskills community--one which was still quite palpable 15 to 20 years later. That has started to turn around in recent years as memories have waned and developers have pushed ideas about how the community could realize a profit from the memory.

Bethel Woods is the name of the Arts Center that was constructed near the concert site and just opened up last year.

I know a lot of people that attended the concert. But I suppose it's much like the 300,000 people that all insist they were in the Polo Grounds when Bobby Thompson hit the "shot heard 'round the world" in 1951. Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#7 of 14 Brian Husar

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Posted June 10 2009 - 02:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8f/ronsreviews_covers_14598540.jpg">
Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music: Ultimate Collectors Edition

Directed By: Michael Wadleigh

Featuring: Richie Havens, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, The Who, Sha-Na-Na, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane, John Sebastian, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix


Studio: Warner

Year: 1970

Rated: R

Film Length: 224 minutes

Aspect Ratio: variable within 2.35:1 frame

Subtitles: 18 streams including English SDH

Release Date: June 9, 2009




The Film

Michael Wadleigh's documentary Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music immerses the viewer in the three day Music Festival that offered a defining moment for the American youth counter culture of the 1960s. Footage of many of the musical acts from the festival is intercut with segments documenting the goings on all around the grounds of Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel Woods, New York. Months of planning for the festival were eventually forced to be improvisationally altered when tens of thousands of attendees more than anticipated showed up at the site in the days leading up to the event. The farm more or less turned into an impromptu city of a hundred thousand young Americans who somehow managed to get by for three days without any significant violence amid the chaos.

Wadleigh's documentary, included here in its expanded three hour and 44 minute director's cut, is a fascinating document of the time, created under hectic conditions where the filmmaking crew, out of necessity as much as aesthetic choice, were immersed in the Woodstock experience as much as the performers and attendees. Wadleigh wisely sent his crew armed with 16mm film cameras out among the masses to document the various activities that were going on when the music was not playing, and many of the images captured of Festival goers and locals playing in mud, eating, smoking, bathing, doing yoga, feeding the masses, cleaning toilets, making love, getting high and expressing unscripted viewpoints ranging from idyllic to paranoid have become as indelibly associated with the event as the performances themselves.

The musical line-up was something of a who's who of late 60s American rock and roll with British acts such as The Who, Ten Years After, and Joe Cocker mixed in as well. The line-up is heavily tilted towards blues and folk-based rock, which was especially fashionable at the time, although acts such as Sha Na Na and (my personal favorite performance) Sly & the Family Stone are on hand to provide the occasional change of pace. When choosing the performances to include in the film, Wadleigh made a deliberate effort to skew towards performances and lyrics that related to the event or even the particular point in the film into which the performance was inserted, resulting in a mix of hits and lesser known songs from various performers that contributed to the film's goal to communicate a shared experience of the event rather than a straight record of the musical performances. Along those lines, this was the first time I have ever sat through the director's cut from beginning to end, and by the end, I felt both immersed and exhausted. Jimi Hendrix's now legendary feedback soaked rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" (which today plays with a montage of other renditions at the Smithsonian Museum of American History's Star Spangled Banner Exhibit next to the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen it) offers up a perfectly executed climax to the proceedings. It is a fittingly symbolic representation of the perceived changing of the generational guard that permeated the event.

Wadleigh and his team of cinematographers and editors which included Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker (who, I understand, have worked together a few times since) assembled their miles of 16mm footage into a Panavision and 70mm widescreen spectacle through strategic creative use of split screen opticals. This sophisticated editorial style made split screen look a lot hipper than it did in Pillow Talk and influenced numerous future films, including some rampant psychedelic mirrored split-screen abuse in Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same a few years later. The 70mm blow-up release allowed them to take full advantage of multi-channel stereo sound for the film's "road show" engagements.

The Video

The film, which is essentially one long optical blow-up of footage shot on 16mm film and arranged across a Panavision frame at various aspect ratios depending on matting and split screen configurations, looks as impressive as its source will allow. Since most of the footage was shot with available light, some of the darker scenes will always look a bit murky. That being said, this presentation is substantially improved compared to the previous DVD and video releases, considerable clean-up appears to have been done to the image without wreaking havoc on the film's grain structure, and I cannot imagine it ever looking much better than this. The footage is all contained within a 2.35:1 aspect ratio area of the 16:9 frame, meaning that the producers refrained from repurposing/zooming the footage matted on all sides when possible. This was the right choice as the split screen effects work better when they have the same relative size increase as they had in the original theatrical presentation.

The Audio

The 5.1 sound mix is available via both a Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The TrueHD track is simply outstanding with amazing fidelity during the music numbers. The non-musical sequences are a bit more hit and miss, likely due to the production conditions, but are still generally very good. The 5.1 mix of the musical performances makes creative use of the surrounds, only occasionally straying into gimmickry such as when an annoying ping-pong stereo panning is applied to the chord build vocals during Sha Na Na's performance. The conventional Dolby Digital 5.1 track also sounded very good, although critical listening A/B comparisons will reveal mildly but noticeably reduced fidelity compared to the lossless TrueHD track.

The Extras

The first disc includes access to BD Live features which I was not able to evaluate on my musty dusty old-fashioned Blu-Ray player from a year and a half ago. Features are reported to be: Media Center, Live Community Screenings, and "My WB Commentary" which allows for user-generated webcam picture-in-picture video commentaries.

The majority of the special features appear on disc two and are arranged under various headings on the BD menus.

Under the heading of Behind the Story is the featurette: The Museum of Bethel Woods: The Story of the 60s and Woodstock. This featurette fills the whole 16:9 frame comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and runs four minutes and 33 seconds. Hosted by Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid, he provides some background on the museum located near the site of the Woodstock Festival, and various guests of the museum and attendees of the Festival offer on camera comments as well. It feels like a promo made to attract tourists to the museum, but does offer a few interesting glimpses of what is to be found there.

Under the heading of Additional Footage are the following three features, all presented in windowboxed 4:3 high definition video with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound:
  • Customize Your Own Woodstock Playlist allows the viewer to watch 18 additional musical performances not included in the director's cut of the feature film. Menu navigation options allow you to select songs in any order creating a playlist on the right side of the screen and then play them back in the order selected. Viewers not wishing to go to that much effort may also simply choose the included "Play All" feature to view all of the performances at once. The selectable songs are as follows:
    • Joan Baez - One Day at a Time (4:17)
    • Country Joe McDonald - Flying High (2:20)
    • Santana - Evil Ways (3:56)
    • Canned Heat - I'm Her Man (5:33)
    • Canned Heat - On the Road Again (10:49)
    • Mountain - Beside the Sea (3:39)
    • Mountain - Southbound Train (6:18)
    • Grateful Dead - Turn on Your Love Light (37:44)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - Born on the Bayou (5:12)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - I Put a Spell on You (4:10)
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival - Keep on Chooglin' (9:25)
    • The Who - We're Not Gonna Take It (9:07)
    • The Who - My Generation (7:36)
    • Jefferson Airplane - 3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds (5:40)
    • Joe Cocker - Something's Coming On (4:14)
    • Johnny Winter - Mean Town Blues (10:52)
    • Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Morning Sunrise (8:26)
    • Sha Na Na - Teen Angel (3:21)
    Note: The Who's famous sunrise performance of "We're Not Gonna Take It" was included in the feature film, but was edited down considerably from the full nine minute version included here.
  • [*]Opening of Festival (3:20) Is a montage of various shots of the grounds, musical acts, crew, and organizers orior to the festival cut to audio of radio promos, news reports, and stage announcements.[*]Closing of Festival (1:20) begins with post-show stage announcements encouraging people to help clean up followed by a montage of various Festival attendees filing out.

Under the heading of Woodstock: From Festival to Feature are a collection of 21 behind the scenes featurettes looking at everything from how the Festival came to pass, to how the film was produced and assembled, to how it was received by critics and audiences. They are presented in high-definition video (with two technical exceptions noted below) and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. The featurettes, along with their descriptions per the Warner Home Video press release are as follows:
  • The Camera (3:52): The Éclair NPR was the best camera around in 1969; Michael Wadleigh talks about why the Éclair was the right camera for this film.
  • 365,000 Feet of Film (2:03): The stories of how Dale Bell and his crew begged, borrowed and stole just enough film to document the festival.
  • Shooting Stage (2:45): Those up-close shots of performers didn’t just happen by magic; see how Wadleigh and his cameramen got those up close and personal shots of the performers.
  • The Line Up(2:38): The Who, Sha Na Na, Santana, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane and many more; how did all these bands get on the roster for the festival of a life time?
  • Holding the Negative Hostage (1:51): What does a filmmaker do when Technicolor is sending a copy of your negative to the studio without your permission? Well, you lock up the film and hire a lawyer.
  • Announcements(3:48): “Don’t take the brown acid” or maybe it was green. We’ll hear about all the strange and informative announcements heard during those three days of peace, love and enlightenment.
  • Suits VS. Longhairs (5:58): The clash between the hippie filmmakers and the Warner executives who didn’t understand what this film meant.
  • Documenting History (3:46): Find out from Michael Wadleigh and Dale Bell, along with filmmakers, where the idea of capturing this event on film came from.
  • Woodstock: The Journey (2:34): Some came by car, others by truck, a few came by helicopter but most walked to the most famous festival in history.
  • Pre-Production (3:06): We’ll find out how this production got off the ground and meet the members of the crew that made it happen.
  • Production (3:06): How many cameras were used? How much film did they go through? Did anyone sleep? All these questions and more will be answered here as we explore how Woodstock was captured on film.
  • Synchronization (1:32): How do you sync all this material with out any slates? No slate, no problem. With the help of an upright Moviola, Dale Bell, Michael Wadleigh, Eddie Kramer and the editors were able to make magic from miles of tape and film.
  • The Crowd (1:56): Half a million people of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages and sexes attended this historical event. We’ll hear stories about the number of people and how they all coexisted for three days with only minor incidents.
  • No Rain! No Rain! (3:18): Everyone talks about the rain at this event as if it were a character. It was. It set the tone, provided moments of danger, fun and disgust.
  • 3 Days in a Truck (2:05): Eddie Kramer heard some of the most amazing performances as he recorded this historic event. But during those three days of peace, love and music, he didn’t get to see any performances because he was stuck in a truck.
  • Woodstock Effect (3:26): The film, the event and the album catapulted many musicians into the limelight, changing their lives forever.
  • Living up to Idealism (5:06)(Note: There was no press release copy describing this and subsequent featurettes, so in my own words…): Various participants discuss the idyllic notions of the festival and how they look from a modern perspective
  • World’s Longest Optical (2:37): Filmmakers discuss how the film was assembled with the help of a team of experienced editors from 16mm sources for eventual presentation in 70mm with multi-track surround sound. Discussion includes how direction was communicated on the myriad split screens effects.
  • Critical Acclaim (6:43): Discussed the positive reception of the film from several key film critics as well as audiences.
  • Courtesy of The Museum at Bethel Woods: The Hog Farm Commune(3:19): Catches up with several members of the Hog Farm Commune including Wavy Gravy and Merry Prankster Ken Babbs, to discuss their Woodstock experience of feeding and otherwise administering aid to the Festival attendees.
  • Hugh Hefner and Michael Wadleigh: The Woodstock Connection (9:31): Begins with introductory comments from Hefner setting up some clips of an interview he conducted with Wadleigh on the Playboy After Dark television program in 1970. Footage of this archival interview is then intercut with additional contemporary comments from Hefner.

Note: The Hog Farm Commune and The Woodstock Connection featurettes appear to have been produced separately from the preceding nineteen featurettes. They both are encoded on disc as high definition video, but appear to be standard definition up-conversions. The Woodstock Connection featurette is 4:3 windowboxed for the modern Hefner interview segments even though they seem to have come from the same set of interviews that produced Hefner's comments in the preceding featurettes which appeared in high-definition filling the 16:9 frame. That being said, the Playboy After Dark archival interview footage looks outstanding although sometimes a bit odd since various people in the background of certain shots are obscured by Court TV-like blobs of smeared focus.

Interview participants in these 21 featurettes include: Wadleigh, Associate Producer Dale Bell, Festival Producer Michael Lang, Sha Na Na members Jacko Marcellino & Donny York, Santana musician Michael Carabello, Ten Years After members Ric Lee, Chick Churchill, & Leo Lyons, Lighting/Production Manager, & MC Chip Monck, Assistant to the Head of Operations Penny Stallings, Former WB VP Fred Weintraub, Jefferson Airplane Members Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, & Grace Slick, Editors/Assistant Directors Martin Scorsese & Thelma Schoonmaker, Johnny Winter, Assistant to the Head of Security and Community Affairs Lee Blumer, Hefner, Location Music Engineer Eddie Kramer, and Hog Farm Commune Members Lisa Low, Wavy Gravy, Ken Babbs, Jean Nichols, & Lisa Sipp.

Packaging

Deluxe packaging and physical extras are the hallmarks of Warner's "Ultimate Collectors Editions". In this case, the packaging is adapted from 1960s fashions with a fringed suede covered outer gift box complete with iron on dove and guitar Woodstock logo patch. Inside the sturdy gift box is a more conventional thin cardboard box with the following contents:
  • Standard 2-disc Blu-Ray case with both discs and a double-sided paper insert detailing the chapters of the main program on one side and the special features listing on the other.
  • A lenticular motion card in a lucite case with three separate images of the festival depending on one's viewing angle.
  • An envelope containing:
    • A replica Festival ticket
    • Replicas of five handwritten messages posted on scrap paper (in one case a scrap paper plate) at the Festival's information center
    • A two-sided fact sheet giving a "by-the-numbers" accounting of several facts about the Festival.
    • An eight-page promotional booklet with ads for the Museum at Bethel Woods as well as several pieces of Woodstock-themed merchandise including books, soundtracks CDs, commemorative Fender guitars, and a line of shoes from Carlos Santana.
Note: Advanced press releases indicated that a 60+ page re-print of a commemorative Life magazine issue would be included as well, but it was nowhere to be found in my review copy. The press release also indicated that "...all enhanced content listed ... is subject to change", so I will not grouse too much. The package is also individually numbered indicating what number out of 140,000 units it is.

Summary

Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music remains an indelible document of one of the defining events of the American youth movement of the 1960s. Warner's Ultimate Collectors Edition Blu-Ray disc pulls out nearly all the stops in presenting the film in its definitive form on high definition home video. Audio and video are substantially upgraded from previous releases and appear to squeeze every ounce of resolution out of the film's original 16mm and 8-track stereo source elements. Extras are highlighted by a generous number of bonus performances from the Festival presented in high definition video and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound as well as over 75 minutes worth of featurettes offering an in-depth behind the scenes look into both the festival and the film. The Ultimate Collectors Edition packaging is very cool (or is that groovy) and entertainingly echoes the 60s vibe of the film. Physical extras are mildly interesting, but I will probably not find myself revisiting them too often.

Regards,

Just a quick note, I did receive the Life Magazine reprint in mine, so maybe just an issue in the review copies.

#8 of 14 Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 10 2009 - 02:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Husar
Just a quick note, I did receive the Life Magazine reprint in mine, so maybe just an issue in the review copies.
That would be great!

One other observation I intended to make in the review but did not: I like the 5.1 sound mix on the bonus tracks better than the feature film itself, mostly because it goes easier on the reverb. It also avoids the moments of gimmickry such as in the Sha Na Na example I mentioned in the "Audio" assessment.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#9 of 14 Brandon Conway

Brandon Conway

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Posted June 10 2009 - 05:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Hickey
Walmart just has the standard size bluray case with the 2 discs with the paper insert for $29.96.
Interesting. Can anyone else confirm this?

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#10 of 14 gomezfan69

gomezfan69

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Posted June 10 2009 - 08:12 AM

I saw it at my Wal-Mart today. It has a different cover than what's in the limited edition. A sticker on the front said it was a Wal-Mart exclusive.

#11 of 14 Ken_McAlinden

Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 11 2009 - 12:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
...One tiny correction. The concert took place on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, NY. There's no community of Bethel Woods. I lived in the area for six years in the 1980s. ...
Fixed! I knew that, but I wrote "The Museum at Bethel Woods" so many time in my notes and in my review that I was apparently physically programmed to type "Woods" after "Bethel". Thanks for straightening me out before this compulsion spread and I started doing things like referring to the local synagogue as Temple Beth-El Woods. Posted Image

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#12 of 14 Mike Frezon

Mike Frezon

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Posted June 11 2009 - 01:26 AM

Posted Image

Beth Elle Woods could appear in one of the Legally Blonde sequels... Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#13 of 14 Vincent-P

Vincent-P

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Posted June 13 2009 - 10:32 AM

Here is the info about the Target bonus content:

There are 3 additional performances under "WOODSTOCK: UNTOLD STORIES":

Canned Heat: Woodstock Boogie
The Who: Sparks
Jimi Hendrix: Spanish Castle Magic

All performances are pillarboxed 4:3 within a 1080p encode.


There are 4 additional featurettes under "WOODSTOCK: FROM FESTIVAL TO FEATURE":

Reflections of an Era - Director Michael Wadleigh on 2 signature 1969 events: Woodstock and the Moon Landing
A Farm In Bethel - Reflections on Landholder Max Yasgur's Legacy
Cinematic Revolution - The Origins of the Film's 3-Panel Look
Woodstock Generation - Sons and Daughters of the 1960s Share Their Memories

All 4 featurettes are full 1080p.

#14 of 14 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

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Posted June 13 2009 - 11:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
One tiny correction. The concert took place on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, NY. There's no community of Bethel Woods. I lived in the area for six years in the 1980s.

Mike,

Yasgur Farms milk is sold in some stores near me. The label advertises a tie-dyed Woodstock t-shirt which can be purchased from the dairy.

I know people who tried to attend Woodstock, but they couldn't get within miles of Bethel and gave up.
Rich Gallagher


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