Monetery Pop (1968): D.A. Pennebaker’s Seminal Docu of Music Concert

Documentarian D.A. Pennebaker’s Monetery Pop is a (selective) chronicle of the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, observing not just the performers and their music, but also the spectators.

A capsule of time, this docu reflects the zeitgeist, including fashion: the look, hair, dress of male and female in the late 1960s.  We get close-ups of the viewers as they listen to the music, and also some of their activities off stage, their arrival and departure, picnicking on the grass, making out, etc.

The order of performances in the film was rearranged from the actual order of appearance at the festival. Many artists who appeared at the festival were not included in the original cut of the film.

Using multiple cameras, Pennebaker was assisted by fellow filmmakers Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles.

Bob Neuwirth, who figured in Pennebaker’s Bob Dylan docu, Don’t Look Back, acted as stage manager.

Featured performers include Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Hugh Masekela, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, the Mamas & Papas, the Who, and others.

Jimmie Hendrix, in wild yellow shirt and red pants, set his guitar on fire, broke it on stage, then threw parts of it to the crowd at the end of “Wild Thing.”

Monterey Pop was included in the 2018 National Film Registry.

End Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this landmark docu on December 12, 2018.