A Vital Moment In History: Monterey Pop

Monterey Pop.jpg

DA Pennebaker made history by documenting the first major festival of its kind, the huge (at the time) Monterey Pop Festival, which I consider to be a more significant moment in the late 60s hippie revolution than even Woodstock. It was the birth of an era.

During the Summer of Love, artists from Jefferson Airplane to Big Brother and the Holding Company to Jimi Hendrix to Ravi Shankar played a three day concert under the shining sun to a group of bliss-filled music listeners on the groove. Nothing but beautiful music and good vibes at this festival, unlike Woodstock which was both heaven and hell, beautiful and miserable, and filled with as much negative energy as positive according to basically any artist who performed at both.

Though he missed the opportunity to showcase the talents of groups such as Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Byrds, my biggest qualm with the film, Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop serves as a benchmark of the concert film, highlighting not only the music but the experience itself. Cross cutting between performer and listener, stage and audience, the film beautifully conveys the atmosphere of the festival for all us vicarious viewers to rapturously imagine.

85/100 – Excellent

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About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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