‘Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Anger’ Review: How a Festival Gone Wrong

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It’s a little surprising that it took this long for a documentary about the 1999 edition of the Woodstock music festival to be made. After all, this is a epic, era-defining fiasco It deserves more scrutiny than Fyre Festival, a mind-blowing fiasco from 2017 that crashed before it actually happened. two movies in this respect.

Garret Price’s HBO document “Woodstock 99” neatly captures a cultural moment, albeit devastating. The first in a documentary series created by Bill Simmons, the film’s subtitle may be “Peace, Love and Fury,” but the first two materials were scant in the scorching July days 22 years ago. The event quickly turned into a hell of overflowing pot-pots, hungry and thirsty festival visitors, horrific sexual assaults, arson, and even deaths. Many of the images are grisly, especially women being groped and young white men immersed in a frenzy of aggressive stupidity, aimless anger, and turbo-boosted misogyny. These guys are coming of age as a victim demographic, and it’s scary.

Price tries to put the festival in context by framing the festival against a period of resentful economic growth: For example, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the Columbine High School shootings took place earlier that year, and Y2K anxiety was growing. Add testimonies from attendees and journalists, and (very short) excerpts from live performances, and the proceedings are often rushed. The movie could easily have been longer.

Like most post-mortems, “Woodstock 99” tries to figure out how everything went wrong and comes with a deadly combination of factors: brutal environment, thoughtless programming (three female acts, lame bizkit, Kid Rock, Korn and Metallica) and failed logistics. The topic of water bottles costing $4 comes up a lot. One of the organizers, John Scher, says it’s “a little on the high side,” before adding coolly: “If you’re going to a festival, bring money with you—it wasn’t a poor man’s festival.”

Scher, who later emerged as the incarnation of cynical corporate evil, argues that women who have been subjected to the barrage of verbal and physical abuse are “at least partially to blame” because they “run naked” and blames the media. , especially MTV News making Woodstock 99 look bad. Even now, he cannot give up the illusion that the festival is a success.

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Anger
Not rated. Working time: 1 hour 50 minutes. Watch on HBO platforms.

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