Taking Woodstock

Taking Woodstock

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Jeff Robson's film review of Taking Woodstock

The chief extra on this Universal release is a commentary track with director Ang Lee and screenwriter/producer James Schamus. They've worked together a lot in the past and collaborated together on several commentary tracks, so they know what they're doing and have an easy rapport.

"This is going to be the grooviest ommentary we've ever done," says Schamus at the start. While not quite as 'far out' as he might want, it is certainly entertaining enough, offering the usual mix of loved up observations about the cast and crew alongside anecdotes about shooting the film. This is tempered with comments about the actual event of Woodstock itself, which adds some enjoyable spice to the mix.

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"Half the locals we cast had been at Woodstock," says Lee, adding that he loves to cast locals because "they fit in" so much better than traditional hired in extras.

It's interesting to hear the level of effort that went into trying to recreate the atmosphere of the festival - right down to the playlist - with Lee citing Peter Sellers' The Party as a big influence on the way he shot the film. Despite their attempts to get the right bits of music playing at the right times of day, they're not scared to admit occasional anachronistic details, such as the misnaming of "Wavy Gravy", who in fact didn't go by that moniker until post-Woodstock. "It's such a great name," says Lee. Few would disagree.

Like many commentaries on longer films, this does flag a little towards the end. "We're running out of things to say," admits Schamus. But it is a pleasant enough time-passer.

Sadly, there's not much else here worthy of note, just three deleted scenes, running to seven minutes and a curious featurette No Audience Required: The Earthlight Players, which is a very brief (four minutes) look at the theatre group in the barn, mostly from the perspective of actor Dan Fogler. Better included than not, for sure, but its a shame they couldn't have got the rights to any sort of actual documentary footage from the festival itself, or put together a featurette on the subject themselves.

Picture and sound are as crisp and clear as you would expect and the film and all the extras, including commentary track, are fully subtitled.

Reviewed on: 11 Mar 2010
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Taking Woodstock packshot
The story of the youngster who set the wheels in motion for the iconic music festival.
Amazon link

Product Code: 8275343

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary track with Ang Lee and James Schamus, No Audience Required: The Earthlight Players

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