Perhaps Woodstock is the best known music festival, but only one has kept strong for several decades and still going – Glastonbury. A small town in the southeast of England is the host to a sizeable music festival that spans for several days and attracts in excess of 150,000 people. Like a lot of you I’m sure, I had never heard of this music festival and after watching this once I’ll probably never get wind of it again.
The first disc of Glastonbury is a documentary on the festival it is not in chron…logical order but includes footage from the 60’s all the way through to the latest festival in 2005. It interviews some of the colorful people attending the festival over the years, the staff involved, and of course the bands that play. At first I was interested in this disc thinking I would get the chance to watch these bands play live, but instead I sat through 130 minutes of hippies rolling around naked in mud, with the odd montage of performances. Really I found this to be a weak documentary, I was not interested in the people dancing like fools to bongo drums, holding up lighters and crying, getting naked and just acting totally like a junkie. The people interviewed and shown in the footage in this documentary were just utterly weird, and not interesting. The only somewhat interesting and normal parts of this documentary were the footage of the most recent festival where there was a lack of hippies. Of course I did enjoy the live and uncut performances that were shown, more specifically on disc 2. Although there are some big names and famous songs played in this documentary and subsequent extras disc but I didn’t like enough of the musicians to enjoy this disc myself. If you do however like Radiohead, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Killers, Foo Fighters, David Gray, The White Stripes, etc. like I’m sure a load of you do then you might enjoy the odd sequence where you get to see them play.
To sum it up, unless you already have an interest Glastonbury, I suggest you don’t form one. Whereas if you already are interested then you might find some enjoyment with this documentary as it does seem to showcase the people surrounding the music pretty well. But it just wasn’t for me and I could very well recommend it to anyone but those who are eager to see the history behind Glastonbury.
Presented in 1.78:1 Widescreen, this picture is mainly composed of handheld shots ranging all the way back to the 70’s with some horrible looking transfers. I guess you could expect this from a documentary movie, but not to this extreme, I was really disappointed with how poorly this turned up. Most of the shots were filled with excessive grain, dust, scratches in the print, and very apparent compression artifacts. The only somewhat good looking scenes in this movie were the footage of the live performances most recent festival, but even those could have looked better.
Think Film has included a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, something that you would expect to the panicle point of the disc but its not. In a movie that focuses around a film festival you would expect to see a lot more shots of the groups performing, but you don’t. In defense of the audio track when these bands are on the stage it sounds exceptionally well, but the thing is that most of the film dates back thirty years and sounds just as bad as it looks.
If there is one thing that I can truly compliment about this 2 disc package, it would definitely be the quality of a few of these features. There is a lot of interesting stuff here but also a few weak points as well. Ultimately I probably enjoyed disc 2 more than disc 1.
- Audio Commentary – Commentary by director Julian Temple and Jarvis Cocker
- Uncut Performances – A whole bunch of uncut performances which were surprisingly more interesting and fun to watch than the entirety of the first disc. Among the list of performers are: Foo Fighters, Fun Lovin Criminals, Paul McCartney, REM, Radiohead, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Goldfrapp, The Killers, The White Stripes, and Kaiser Chiefs.
- Freeing The Spirit: Glastonbury 1999 – Footage of the 1999 festival with a handheld camera focusing on some of the crowd activities i.e. dancing, singing, and burning things.
- Bonus Interviews – Broke up into two parts Celebrity Interviews and Festival Goer Interviews. Amongst the Celebrity Interviews are some interesting and some not so interesting interviews with Michael Eavis, James Brown, Coldplay, Noel Gallagher, Moby, Radio One DJ John Peel, The Dandy Warhols. Among the Festival Goer Interviews are the Essex Boys, Tattoo Man, and Jimmy the Punk. They are a nice look at some of the people who attend the festival but ultimately not so interesting.
- Glastonbury Ceremony – A whole bunch of freaks and hippies get together and sing and chant in circles, really nothing to see here.
- Theatrical Trailer
The feature film itself wasn’t that great for me, although I did enjoy the second disc of extra features more. I was hoping to see more live performances out of this documentary, but instead I got a pretty dull look into the history of the event. If you are at all curious about this festival and the people who attend it then maybe you can give this a watch but don’t expect it to always look spectacular, the only thing you can look forward too is the nice bunch of features.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director Julian Temple and Jarvis Cocker
- Uncut Performances
- Freeing The Spirit: Glastonbury 1999
- Bonus Interviews
- Glastonbury Ceremony
- Theatrical Trailer