Picks and Pans Review: Woodstock

updated 07/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Exactly 25 summers after the original Woodstock happened in upstate New York, the Academy Award-winning documentary chronicling the three days of peace, love, mud and music is returning to theaters. Like most of the people who sat there listening to Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone and The Who, the movie has ballooned a bit. Director Michael Wadleigh, now 52, has added 40 minutes of additional footage, bringing the running time to a near-stupefying 4 hours.

To view Woodstock again—or even for the first time—is to be simultaneously exhilarated and embarrassed. It's great to see and hear Jimi Hendrix's searing version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," to bask in the good vibes emanating from some 400,000 spectators, and to be reminded of a time when the answers seemed as simple as ending the war and loving each other. What's embarrassing, of course, is that it was never that simple, that drugs were rampant ("The brown acid is not too good. If you feel like experimenting, only take half a tab, okay?" a stage announcer warns the crowd), that this event that supposedly represented a generation was so overwhelmingly white, and that way too many folks say "groovy" and "far out." (R)

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