Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival

on February 21, 1997 by Stephenie Slahor
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   On the heels of Woodstock, British organizers plan a "Festival of Music" on the Isle of Wight to feature such performers as The Doors, Donovan, the Moody Blues, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Jethro Tull and The Who. There are not only 60,000 paying customers, but 550,000 more who refuse to pay and who camp just outside the fest, insisting that the event isn't a concert but a happening that should be open to everyone for free.
   This 25-year-old documentary examines everyone's perspective--organizers, ticketholders, security officers, gate crashers, performers and hillside campers. It becomes obvious that not everyone can be pleased at such a gargantuan event as the organizers, desperate to break even, try to placate fans, pay expenses and avoid offending anyone. Of course, they fail utterly. This chronicle is an insider's look into the world of rock promotion and the headaches that accompany it. Even those unfamiliar with the music will find this an interesting film, especially thanks to skillful editing (by Einar Westerlund and Stan Warnow) that gives fascinating views of the festival from idea to end. In chronicling the last such fest, the film's archival aspects capture a slice of rock history and the now-vintage music of those times. Directed, written and produced by Murray Lerner. A Strand release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 128 min.
Tags: Murray Lerner. A Strand release. Documentary, camp, Woodstock, British, promotion, archival, vintage
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