The WOODSTOCK 50thanniversary festival is no more. Long live the original! Thankfully, the WOODSTOCK movie, winner of the Academy Award in 1971 for Best Documentary, endures, and remains provocative 50 years after we began filming, against all odds, on August 10, 1969. Though some 500,000 people attended the festival between August 15-17, only several thousand remained on the muddy field to hear the Call to Action unleashed by Jimi Hendrix at 9AM on Monday morning, August 18, 1969.
On this Thursday, August 15, 2019, in 600 theaters across the country, for one night only, the WOODSTOCK DIRECTOR’s CUTwill be screened for tens of thousands of people, young and old. What we as filmmakers did then, on those muddy fields filled with R.E.S.P.E.C.T., integrity, and communitarianism, lives on eternally as a once-in-a-lifetime-experience, historic in its reverberation.
Very near the end of the movie, Jimi Hendrix, dressed in white fringe, stands alone with a pick-up band, searching for meaning from the almost empty fields, the barren stage, the cast-off remains of the most spontaneous gathering of humankind ever recorded. But when he does find his groove, nothing can prevent his “Call to Action” mingled with “Taps” from being embedded in the hard drive of our nation’s consciousness, capturing screams from the original sin of slavery in 1619 to the assassination of HOPE, symbolized by President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and beyond, to this day. This is no idle 4-minute rift piercing our soul. The end of an era, it haunts us today.
Alas, Jimi Hendrix would not live long enough to know that his wailing plea would reach millions of people around the world, in the movie and on recordings. Still, what gauntlet is he throwing out to our generation? Whyand Howdoes Hendrix matter? What can we do? Perhaps at no other time in our society is his searing call to action more urgent than it is now as we navigate our futures in this society.
First, we can all set our alarms for 9AM this Sunday August 18 to remember, for the 3 minutes 46 seconds it takes Jimi to pierce us with his brilliant majesty, how he speaks to and begs each of us. He spoke 50 years earlier. He echoes today. He matters. New dawns await us, if and whenweact.
Second,we can engage locally with our community, as A. J. Ali—who heard Jimi Hendrix’s call years ago—would have us do. On September 17, in all 50 states, beginning at 6PM Eastern and 3PM Pacific, for a 3-hour event, A.J. Ali has inaugurated The National Day of Reconciliation, patterned after a similar event in South Africa, to foster reconciliation and national unity for our country, particularly to improve relations between police and people of color. L.O.V.E. is the answer, just as R.E.S.P.E.C.T.,sung by Aretha Franklin, is for those of us who made the WOODSTOCKmovie. A.J. Ali has organized law enforcement agencies, schools, colleges, ministries, community centers, theaters, libraries and other locations. By remembering Hendrix’s Call, we can bring this country of ours closer together. Our time is now. Go to, share and join: http://loveistheanswermovement.com/national-day-of-reconciliation/
Dale Bell, a producer of WOODSTOCK; author of two new books about the making of the movie. firstname.lastname@example.org. Media Policy Center, 2932 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403.