Woodstock-Director's Cut (1970)

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Released 18-Jul-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 215:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (102:58) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Wadleigh
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Joan Baez
Canned Heat
Joe Cocker & The Grease Band
Country Joe & Country Joe & The Fish McDonald
Stills & Nash Crosby
Arlo Guthrie
Richie Havens
Jimi Hendrix
Jefferson Airplane
Janis Joplin
Santana
John Sebastian
Sha-Na-Na
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, but not much tobacco
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I am guessing that most people in the world would have a rough idea of what Woodstock actually was. After all, I would doubt that any gathering of those heady days of peace, love, and just a few drugs has had any more words written about it than the granddaddy of them all. For three magical days in August, 1969 somewhere between five hundred thousand and one million five hundred thousand people gathered on a small farm near Woodstock to enjoy one enormous music festival. The staggering achievement of the event, despite all the problems, was that this enormous group of people came together and enjoyed the festival virtually trouble free. It might have required copious amounts of illegal substances of a very wide variety, but they did manage to come together in peace, thus completely thwarting the dire projections of the "moral majority" of a country really going through some serious social upheavals. Not the least of the problems was the increasing opposition to American involvement in Vietnam.

    Mind you, when the bill of acts includes the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Canned Heat, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Sly And The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Ten Years After, The Who, Sha-Na-Na, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Santana and Jimi Hendrix, amongst others, is it any wonder that people gathered in large numbers? To see such legends as Hendrix and Joplin on the same bill would have been the stuff of dreams, yet these people were probably unaware of just how important these people were in the rock and roll lexicon.

    This is a warts-and-all look at the event, compiled from a variety of cameras and demonstrating just what a logistical nightmare the whole event was, as well as what a musical event it was. The film won the 1970 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, which is hardly surprising, and this Director's Cut adds about forty minutes of previously unseen footage to the film.

    The event was one of the pivotal events of the 1960s and the film is about as good a record as you are ever going to see of it. If you are of the generation that remembers the 1960s and what the peace movement was all about, this is an essential record of that time. If you are interested in live performances of some of the greatest acts of the rock and roll era, then this is also an essential purchase. If you just want to see what all the darn fuss was about, then this is certainly worth a look. It is long, very long, and it is a bit disjointed but it sure is the best this has looked for a long time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is notionally in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 but that is understating the true nature of the transfer. The slick describes the ratio as variable and that is certainly a good way of describing it in short terms. Certainly, there are portions in 2.35:1, but there are far more extended portions in something that looks like 2.00:1, portions that look like 1.85:1, portions that appear to be windowboxed 1.85:1, some really widescreen portions that have three spilt screens in them and assorted other derivations of widescreen too. Whatever the format, it is nonetheless 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is probably as good as we could expect for this sort of material. It is a decently sharp transfer in all the circumstances. Naturally there are the obligatory lapses in focus but this is certainly expected in this sort of material. Detail is a bit on the average side, but this is again as expected. Shadow detail is very, very average, but in some respects this adds to the poignancy of some of the performances. Clarity pretty much falls within the scope of drug-induced haze, with a fair degree of grain being present in some sections of the film. Low level noise is not a serious problem.

    The colour has all the distinctiveness of your typical home video. Distinctly lacking in saturation at times, this is not a really great colourscape. It is obviously lacking in vibrancy, but this in actual fact probably suits the nature of the film. Blacks have a decent depth to them, which helps the overall transfer somewhat. There are some slight oversaturation problems under red stage lighting (around 62:00 being a good example) as well as a bit of flare under blue lighting.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although some pixelization of the background is apparent at times. There are no significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, with just the odd instance of aliasing to be noted. There is a fair collection of film artefacts to be seen however, not unexpectedly so, and sometimes the dirt marks, hairs and scratches are too large to ignore.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 102:58. Whilst not the best as it comes just a bit before a scene change, it is not too bad and not really that disruptive to the flow of the film.

    Regrettably, there are no subtitle options on the DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The music and dialogue comes up pretty well in the transfer and it is easy enough to understand. There did not appear to be any significant audio sync problems in the transfer.

    The soundtrack is a very nicely remastered effort, with some decent use of the surround channels, as well as the bass channel. This is certainly a soundtrack that rewards the volume being turned up a bit. Rear surround channel use is not exactly the greatest ever heard, but does provide a nice encompassing sound that largely captures the way the event would have sounded I suspect. The sound is perhaps a bit more congested than I would have preferred but considering that the source material was never in pristine condition judging by the compact disc recordings I have of the event, that is one thing that I really am loathe to mention.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Since the film runs to three and a half hours, it is hardly surprising that we get nothing at all in the way of extras. However, the length of the film does not excuse the fact that the chapter listing on the inside of the slick lists chapters by Side A and Side B. On a single sided, dual layered DVD, that makes little sense at all.

Menus

    Probably with the aim of saving as much space as possible, rather bland.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This appears to be identical to the Region 1 release in all respects - bar one. The Region 1 release is a flipper, so unless you have a desire to break the journey half way through, Region 4 would be the version of choice.

Summary

    Woodstock remains an essential record of the event and as such is the sort of DVD that anyone with a passing interest in music or the 1960s should ensure they at least have a look at. The transfer in all respects is about as good as we could reasonably expect.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, September 10, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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