directed by Nicolas Roeg and Peter Neal
What do we really know of the hippies? That flourish of youth culture dominated the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s. It celebrated peace, love, dope, sex, rock and roll, Krishna, and every other escape for a generation afraid of both conventional and nuclear war. Their response to this existential dilemma created the music festival, and the UK hosted more than its share of these debauched gatherings. Tonight we visit the second Glastonbury Fayre, a celebration of DIY, innovative music, traditional sex, all sprinkled over with pot and acid and an alphabet soup of other still obscure chemicals of joy. This doc was tucked away for a long time, and its out now on a DVD that makes the 16 mm film look about as good as possible after 50 years. The bands here range from relics we recall (Traffic, Melanie, Fairport Convention, Arthur Brown) to one festival wonders: Gong, Family, Trumpton and the Riots, and my favorite band name ever: The Expanding Head Band.
As docs go, this one is as freewheeling as the era itself. Famously, David Bowie played here but no one bothered filming him. Bands appear with no introduction and no liner notes leaving me to guess as to which band name goes with which group. What’s most interesting is the footage of the kids camping, smoking, fornicating, and rolling around in the cold British mud. There’s more than generic male and female nudity here, so be warned. Nothing is erotic, but its all rather …earthy. There’s an audio commentary by Nick Roeg (director) but it sounds like he’s stoned and struggling to recall what he did a lifetime ago. This film is not by any means slick or well organized, but it is a time capsule of the high life of British hippies and the exciting events they lived through. We idolize the hippies and their free lifestyle, but honestly this camp it looks cold, damp and free of modern amenity like plumbing and clean water. Still, I’d give anything to have been there…