Dr. Debra Jan Bibel | Oakland, CA USA | 12/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The rise and decline of the popular conceptions of hippiedom are well depicted in the documentary; indeed, it the best that I have seen of similar works produced locally in the Bay Area and nationally, typically with focus on 1968, the year after the so-called Summer of Love. I am an academic hippie myself, age 62 at the time of this review, and was present at the Gathering of Tribes, the formal start of the period, and have lived through all the depicted events before and after. Most other documentaries failed to emphasize the key spiritual component of the cultural revolution. Yes, it was sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but it was also spirituality and consciousness studies that eventually led to environmental/ecology movements, cognitive neuroscience, and psychoimmunology, as well as the increasing popularity of Buddhism in the United States and the development of world music appreciation. As described, all the hippie wannabes spoiled the scene, did not understand the ideologies nor the proper use of entheogens. The popular image of hippies was of them, not the more thoughtful, experimental, and realized post-Beats, the pioneers who led the way. [Peter Coyote's use of B***S*** was bleeped from the PBS broadcast, but we do not need such censorship on the DVD.] Unfortunately, the documentary is too short, merely an hour, making the price of the DVD a tad too much. Still, if you want a proper introduction to the rise of this American Experience, yet influencing the nation as much as the Vietnam War, then this DVD is for you."
Essential to understanding ourselves
Daniel L. Cooke | San Francisco, CA | 01/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though just an hour, this film manages to communicate, with depth, an essential part of the American mind. It shows divisions our society continues to experience. It shows the lost dream of the 60s movement. I'm 44; I missed the 60s, but could feel it in the air when younger. This film helped me comprehend the what, why, and how. A clip of Ronald Reagan railing against LSD as governor of California helped me understand how we moved from being the society of civic duty, in which accumulation of massive wealth was viewed with suspicioun, to the "me society" of the 80s that we still experience. Really, in one hour, snippets communicate enormous volumes of information. To me, the film does not one-sidely glorify the summer of love. It shows the summer's positive and negative affects on society. I think it shows how the extremes of that time led to the backlash in which we live today. Maybe you'll see it differently. In any case, it is essential viewing - especially for anyone who did not live in, as an adult, the pre-Reagan era of American thought."
I Was There
Mark A. Sheehy | San Francisco | 11/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film left me longing for the 60's San Francisco.I was 14 during the Summer of Love,often at Golden Gate Park for the free concerts, and we were protesting something called The Vietnam War? A more innocent San Francisco existed back then. The movie didn't realize that 1967 was the beginning of this cultural revolution which continued for 10 more years! It did however point out that 1967 defined the City, and its mark is, and forever shall be, indelible."
Informative look at the Summer Of Love.
S. Spears | Florence, MA | 01/13/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Coyote narrates this documentary, which takes a look back at the infamous Summer Of Love. San Francisco was a haven for idealist youths during the summer of 1967, who were looking for the great utopia. The film shows how overwhelmed the Haight Ashbury neighborhood became, from the huge influx of young people that summer.
The film points out that by the time the summer of 1967 was over, the hippie hordes had begun leaving the Haight, and moving to the country. The hippies even staged a mock funeral march through the Haight, to signify the 'death' of the love vibes, that they felt were rapidly dwindling there.
Even before the Summer Of Love was over, the Haight district was already suffering. Increasing crime rates, hard drugs filtering into the area, and inadequate resources to accommodate the scores of hippies in residence there, all took a serious toll on the Haight neighborhood.
I recommend this film, for those that want to revisit the Summer Of Love, and/or find out just what it was all about. "
Quite good--but too brief to completely examine this event
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 11/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This fine although somewhat short documentary gives us a rather good understanding of the 1967 "Summer of Love" in San Francisco as hippies and other young people from all over the nation gathered together to try to experience a utopian world in which money and materialism were shunned while peace and love were embraced. Of course, the truth is more than just that: some of these people were occasionally using a lot of really rather dangerous drugs that could result in their having "a bad trip;" and the eventual overcrowding of the Haight-Ashbury district became so intolerable that many of the original hippies fled to communes east of San Francisco or elsewhere.
Without giving it all away (and I assure you I won't), the film starts by telling us briefly about the "beatnik generation" that loved to gather in coffee shops and read poetry. The women didn't exactly bother getting their hair done every week; they were into natural experiences and they didn't care about fitting into society. The "hipsters," or "hippies" as they came to be called, were a somewhat different group. Like the beatniks, they shunned societal norms but they wanted to be outdoors enjoying nature; and they were much, much larger in numbers as they shared freedom of expression while dancing and making love with whomever they pleased.
The film does a great job of showing the rise and fall of the Summer of Love; we see how hippies gathered in January of 1967 in a large park in San Francisco for the first ever "be-in" and how word spread quickly that such freedom could be possible for anyone in the nation who made the trip to San Francisco. Soon more and more people were coming; and the ensuing events, both good and bad, helped to define the "Summer of Love." We also see how these hippies were able to subsist and that's terrific.
The archival footage is wonderful. We see Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, railing against drugs and the footage of tourists on a San Francisco tour bus is incredible! One woman looks absolutely horrified as the bus passes through the Haight-Ashbury district which was billed as the only "foreign tour" within the United States. There are interesting film clips of older people who had always lived on Haight Street, or "in the Haight;" and their reactions to the Summer of Love fascinated me.
Overall, American Experience - Summer of Love is a solid documentary about the summer of 1967 in San Francisco. I would give this five stars but it is a bit too succinct as another reviewer notes. Some more interview footage would have been wonderful, for example. I recommend this film for anyone studying the hippie social movement; and people interested in the history of San Francisco would do well to add this to their collections."