It didn't do that well in the theaters or with critics, and wasn't nominated for any awards in tonight's Golden Globe Awards, but this Ang Lee film, which I just saw on DVD this weekend, did well with me.
Based on the memoir "Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life" by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte, the film chronicles not the concert itself and the now enshrined performances by the artists, but how the concert physically came to be. Much artistic license was taken by Lee to be sure, but that was fine, because the performances by all of the principles were personable and down-to-earth in a way that brought me willingly into their lives, regardless of how credible they were.
Yet, what really struck me the most wasn't really directly made a big deal of in the movie, but was covered well nonetheless in the background. It was how the making of Woodstock the concert combined the sensibilities of 1960's hippiedom with the spirit of American capitalism and determination. In an incredibly short amount of time, a dairy farm in a really rural area of New York was transformed into a cooperative city of a few hundred thousand people, coming together to celebrate life.
Money, of which the promoters had plenty, combined with peaceful and loving intentions to inspire people to work really hard to make it all happen, all in the spirit of fun. Plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, drinking water and food distribution, all of these aspects of infrastructure and more had to be built and implemented in a way that made the building of Kevin Costner's "Field of Dreams" baseball field seem like a breeze. Plus, Woodstock really happened! And it rained like hell to boot!
It reminded me once again that money itself is neutral, neither inherently good nor evil. It's all in the intention of how you use it. And likewise, Capitalism in and of itself isn't necessarily corrupt, but rather can be corrupted, or not. The spirit of free enterprise can be used to create and inspire if the element of greed isn't present, and as everyone now knows, Woodstock ultimately became a free concert when the promoters realized that something bigger than them had taken over the event. (For an FPL tie-in piece on this subject, read: "WHY AREN'T YOU RICH?")
I highly recommend this delightful movie!