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Photo Credit :: Woodstock
Arts & Entertainment
Woodstock :: The Director's Cut
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 3, 2009 
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Such innocence, such hopeful optimism—such an abundance of belief that the world was going to change for the better. That’s how it was during the late summer of 1969, when more than 300,000 kids from around the country showed up on a dairy farm in a small upstate town near Woodstock, New York—and that’s exactly what comes off the screen during the nearly four-hour long director’s cut of Woodstock, the film. 

Not only is this summer the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, it’s also the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.  That’s right, both Stonewall and Woodstock occurred during the same summer: two seminal events in the modern-day gay rights movement—for you have only to see the abundance of A&F prototypes in the film’s footage to realize what a homo haven were those three days of peace and music (and sex…) Fingers crossed that these two anniversaries bode well for the ongoing pursuit of LGBT equality this summer. 

Last night’s joyous benefit screening of the director’s cut of Woodstock at the Film Society of Lincoln Center jolted the audience back to a time when performers and musicians had less than perfect teeth and bodies uncut by health clubs—but oh, what stage presence, what incredible charisma these people possessed.  To see these legends in the prime of their youth—to witness Joplin’s performance of “Work Me, Lord” and Canned Heat’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Crosby, Stills and Nash (performing together for only the second time) singing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”—is to recognize anew the power of music to influence entire cultures.  What the film captures so beautifully are cathartic performance pieces, shamanistic and beatific—see Alvin Lee of Ten Years After performing “I’m Going Home” and Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” as well as Sly Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher.”  This is music as a conduit of collective euphoria and aesthetic mesmerization and the film serves as a touching reminder of a time in American history when youth came together and united in love.  Let’s hope for a repeat performance this summer: when youth unites for LGBT equality and the Woodstock Generation births the Love Generation.