Slowly but surely, the world is emerging from one of the darkest challenges most of us will ever experience. But it will still be some time before we return to full normality, and there are some things we will have to live without for some time yet. With summer upon us, thoughts naturally turn to music festivals, but most of 2020’s events were cancelled long ago. Instead, let’s take a look in the rear view mirror to a time when it all began.
It’s 50 years since Woodstock, Glastonbury and the Summer of Love. This was a time when the movies and the music were interwoven in a way that you just don’t see today. Having said that, not everything has changed for the worse in the past half a century. Today, if you want to relive those years with a mellow smoke, you can place your order online. So chill out, light up and be transported back to the summer of love with these classic hippie flicks.
What’s New, Pussycat?
When this production hit the screens in the late 1960s, the critics of the day gave it an absolute mauling. They hated the chaotic storyline, they disapproved of the promiscuity and they didn’t understand whether it was trying to be a comedy, a musical or something else. That’s reason enough to watch Woody Allen’s directorial debut. If you need more, how about a cast list that includes Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Ursula Andress and Tom Jones, who sings that famous title song. Despite the passing of more than 50 years, he barely seems to have aged since!
Forget last year’s Netflix remake, the original 1970 Woodstock movie is all you need to be transported to that field in Upstate New York and be part of something unique. It provides warts-and-all coverage, including the National Guard’s impromptu support to bring food and medical supplies. But like the event itself, this movie is all about the music. From Richie Haven’s spellbinding opener, you will be held in thrall till Hendrix brings things to that memorable finale with the Star-Spangled Banner.
If one band encapsulates how the music scene evolved in the 1960s it is the Beatles. The long-haired stoners of 1969 were far removed from the clean cut kids who sang Love Me Do seven years earlier. Likewise, Yellow Submarine could not be more different to A Hard Day’s Night. The Sea of Nothing, the underwater kingdom of Pepperland, the Sea of Monsters – the whole movie is like one long acid trip.
Like What’s New Pussycat, Michelangelo Antonioni’s study of the US counterculture at the end of the 1960s was a commercial disaster and was panned by the critics. Today, it is regarded as a cult classic. The meandering plot might not be to all tastes, but the visual artistry is undeniable. With a soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead, it all adds up to 112 minutes well spent.