Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival
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Time Out says'I just woke up about two minutes ago,' quips Jimi Hendrix. He then launches into the title track of Lerner's often hilarious documentary on the biggest, grubbiest, most colourful, chaotic gathering of the masses since Jesus dished out the loaves. Shot on both 16 and 35mm, the film spends as much time rummaging through the backstage shenanigans as it does covering the sounds of the multitude of 'dadrockers' on the bill. And thank goodness it does, because here we have an event so haphazard and disorganised, you can only wonder how it continued to function beyond even the first few bars of music. Six hundred thousand 'brothers and sisters' rowed, shipped, and hitched their way across the watery divide, yet the organisers had sold just 50,000 tickets. 'The fence must die,' proclaimed graffiti painted by destitutes on 'desolation row'. The corrugated sheeting collapsed, and it was left to financially strapped MC/promoter Ricki Farr to cool things down, and to Joni Mitchell to lose her head by telling the rowdy crowds to 'stop behaving like tourists, man'. The music is exemplary stuff to anyone who heard it the first time around - The Doors, Free, Kris Kristofferson (who eventually stormed off stage), The Who, Miles Davis (silhouetted against the dusk), Jethro Tull - but it's the hilarity of the sound-bites that makes this really worth catching.