Documentary / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 5 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 75% · 50 ratings
IMDb Rating 7.5/10 10 719 719


Top cast

Johnny Cash as Self
Bob Dylan as Self
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
901.46 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 38 min
Seeds 18
1.63 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 38 min
Seeds 37

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by classicsoncall 8 / 10

"All through the ages, you'll find people hung up on makin' music."

There's not much out there related to the Newport Music Festivals, so when I caught this at my local library I knew I needed to give it a look. In a way, it's an early preview of 1969's Woodstock celebration, but with a folk music background and a much more laid back atmosphere. It's a bit surreal actually, to see thousands of metal and wooden folding chairs lined up in neat rows in an open field for the crowd to sit down on. Though there are plenty of scenes in which the audience is simply standing around or sitting on the ground as various acts play. Presumably, this is because the documentary encompasses not a single event in the history of Newport, but covering a span of five years from 1963 to 1967.

The one thing I was primarily interested in was seeing the crowd reaction to Bob Dylan the first time he plugs his guitar into an amp to deliver an electric sound with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Unfortunately, director Murray Lerner chose not to focus in on the controversy this created with the staunch fans of folk music, who booed Dylan when it happened. Interesting, since in an earlier segment, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary asked the crowd "Was she too loud?" after Odetta sang one of her songs. A later clip of Paul Butterfield did show a number of fans reacting stone faced to the band, while just as many if not more were keeping time to the music.

A nice surprise for me was the presence of a cavalcade of blues musicians one might never get to see performing live outside of this documentary. Folks like Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, Son House, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, and the great Howlin' Wolf. It was interesting to hear Son House expound on his theory of the blues, stating that if the music gets you jumpin', it's NOT the blues. Nevertheless, the audience was fully with Howlin' Wolf doing his thing, and jumping right along with his rhythm.

The only downside here is that because of the format, you don't have a sense of what scenes played in what year. Dylan's electric turn happened in 1965 for example, and you don't find that out in this documentary. You would have to search that out on your own if I didn't just mention it. But overall, this is a competent recollection of the five years of Newport's history, an era which was probably a lot more idealistic than the ensuing years would demonstrate. A good way to catch this documentary is on the Criterion Collection; it's crisp rendition done entirely in black and white is a visual as well as an auditory treat. Check it out when you can.

Reviewed by claudio_carvalho 8 / 10

Magic Moments that Will Never Happen Again

Director Murray Lerner makes this black and white documentary of the Folk Music at Newport from 1963 to 1966, entwining interviews with the audiences that highlight the importance of the folk music and performances of artists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter,Paul and Mary, Donovan, Howlin' Wolf and Johnny Cash.

"Festival" is a testimony of magic moments of the 60's that will never happen again. Who could imagine in the present days an artist like Bob Dylan asking for a harmonica to the audience to play Mr.Tambourine Man; or Peter, Paul and Mary in trouble with the microphones; or Peter Yarrow changing the tune of his guitar while singing with Joan Baez; or the artists so close to the audience. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Festival"

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 8 / 10

time capsule

Filmmaker Murray Lerner documents the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1966. It's in black and white. In addition to the performers, he interviews some of the audiences. The performers include Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. Joan Baez has a good size section which includes her interacting with fans. The most interesting is a small scene with Dylan performing with an electric guitar. There is cheering after his set. I'm not sure if that's the 1965 festival when he first returned to electric. All in all, it's a great time capsule of old performances and artists long gone. It is music history.

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