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Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival, the Movie Movie Review

concert lerner free jim

It took Murray Lerner a quarter of a century to raise completion funds for Message to Love, his film of the 1970 Isle of Wight concert. Part of the problem was the TYPE of film he wanted to make. He wanted to show the sturm und drang that surrounded the concert, while most of the money folks wanted to skip all that and keep the focus on the music. Yet the behind-the-scenes conflict says a great deal about the atmosphere that surrounded the concert. Only 60,000 of the 600,000 fans paid for their three pound tickets; among the 540,000 crashers there were rumblings that music should be free and for the people and even if it were free, it had to be great and not a rip-off and all the usual parasitic ca-ca of that era. To humor the crowds, some of the entertainers paid lip service to the notion of free concerts, but Tiny Tim, for one, demanded his performance fee in advance. This is the concert in which Joni Mitchell scolded the crowd for “acting like tourists!” Jimi Hendrix, a dozen days before his death, sings “Foxy Lady.” Jim Morrison sings “The End.” Message to Love reveals the cranky side of peace and harmony. It's a period piece, but it isn't nostalgic because of the undercurrents Lerner chose to show and the dissonant details he selected.

1970 126m/C Jim Morrison, Roger Daltrey, John Entwhistle, Keith Moon, Ian Anderson, Pete Townshend, Tiny Tim, John Sebastian, Donovan, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez; D: Murray Lerner; C: Jack Hazan, Nicholas D. Knowland, Norman G. Langley, Andy Carchrae, Richard Stanley, Charles Stewart, Mike Whittaker. VHS, DVD

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