Generally satisfying film of classic 1970 rock festival
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Murray Lerner and his film crew were hired by the Isle of Wight Festival promoters to make a movie of the events and music that took place from August 26-31st 1970. Due to financial problems and lack of interest from the film distributors, the film footage sat unreleased for twenty-five years (although bits of Hendrix, The Who & Free's performances surfaced in other presentations). Before the 1995 movie was released I absolutely hungered to see anything of this footage. Admittedly, my anticipation for the film was incredible. Eventually I got my wish. Fortunately, I was generally satisfied with MESSAGE TO LOVE, although I did have reservations. First the good: I was able to see The Doors, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Free, Taste, etc. in their prime. These are classic performances, mostly well played. The scene of Kris Kristofferson getting booed off stage haunted me for weeks; I felt sorry for the guy. Too bad they didn't show his come-back performance a few days later, where he was better received. The dissapointments: I want more footage. A lot of the music performances are extremely edited-down. Donovan is only seen for like three seconds. John Sebastian's show stopping performance is poorly edited too as they come in for the ending of his song. Performances from Tony Joe White, Melanie, Cactus, Procol Harum weren't even included in favor of "Machine Gun" (Hendrix) "All Right Now" (Free) "Young Man Blues" (The Who) ...redundant footage, because they were all available in other presentations. Lastly, the film is generally downbeat, focusing in on the problems that plagued the festival. Actually, the violence and unpleasentness is overplayed. This was actually a good festival, with good bands and a lot of positive aspects. Too bad Lerner couldn't focus more on this. Nevertheless, it's still a fine film and I hope to see more footage released to the public."
"Whoever knocks down the fence gets a free ball!"
W. Langan | the end of the world to your town! | 05/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the performances are good, although a little too brief (and some songs are probably edited), which is why I had to dock this review one star. This is more of a documentary of the event than anything else. You'll see the promoters and the crowd get almost as much time on the camera as the performers. The Isle of Wight wasn't exactly Britain's answer to Woodstock (Altamont ended the Woodstock spirit and this is Hippydom's last true hurrah), but still a great festival.
This has poignant moments, like Jimi Hendrix' final performance featuring "Message to Love," "Machine Gun" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," one of the Doors' final performances (Jim Morrison looks sad and out of it) featuring "When the Music's Over" and "The End" and Joni Mitchell bursting out in tears after one rambunctious hippie interrupts her set while playing "Woodstock" (he's lucky he didn't try interrupting the Who's set!). She carries on singing "Big Yellow Taxi." After instances like Altamont, the promoters add security like a metal fence dividing the young teens and adults (some English, some American) who've paid admission and those who haven't and police dogs. So, naturally, there's plenty of arguments between the promoters and the music fans. Due to the war between them, Kris Kristoferson is unduly booed onstage. Folks are too busy trying to get in to listen to the original "Me and Bobbie McGee." Joan Baez, after her performance of "Let It Be" is interviewed. She's honest and says "This is my job, so naturally, I expect to be paid." A humorous moment is Tiny Tim singing via megaphone "There'll Always Be An England." A sad moment is when one hippie says he's given his young son LSD (nowadays, a social worker would probably take the son away from him). It's amusing to see a young thin Ian Anderson perform with Jethro Tull ("Whoever said we wouldn't perform tonight is full of...") on "My Sunday Feeeling" and a young thin Paul Rogers perform "All Right Now" with Free. This is also Emerson, Lake and Palmer's debut performance (each of them celebrates in full flamboyance by Emerson nearly destroying his organ, Lake setting off a cannon and Palmer removing his shirt while performing "Pictures at an Exhibition/Blue Rondo a la Turk"). It's also one of the Moody Blues' 1st performances live. Fortunately for the freeloaders (nowadays one would find it extraordinary that they would spend a lot of money on crossing the boat to the Isle and not schill out 3 English pounds), the fence is taken down and all hold hands in peace, while a guitar plays "Amazing Grace." You really sympathize with Rikki (one of the emcees), as he bears his heart with the audience that he and the other promoters will have lots of fees to pay for this decision. As the festival comes to end, Rikki later sums it all up when he says "This is the last great event." One of the carpenters looks a little like Jerry Garcia!
An edition with more complete performances would be great in the future. In the meantime, this will have to do. By the way, this is a 2 sided disk (at least my copy is) and if it ends with Joni Mitchell singing "Big Yellow Taxi," turn the disk over and you'll get Miles Davis and the rest of the program."
The music too-often takes a back seat to the promoters.
J. Lund | SoCal, USA | 07/16/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The big difference between this movie and Woodstock: Woodstock had the non-musical footage serving as interludes to the performances. Here the impression I get is largely the opposite, although there is quite a bit of music seen and/or heard throughout the film. The talent roster is roughly equal between the two festivals (Jimi Hendrix appeared at both). However, I think fans of most of the MESSAGE TO LOVE artists will be irked by how little screen-time that most of the musicians receive. For example, I am a disappointed Miles Davis fan (his segment lasts about a minute), while the footage of another of my musical favorites (Joni Mitchell) is preoccupied with her tearful reaction to an impatient crowd rather than her music. Too many of the featured artists (Tull, Miles, Joni, etc.) have loyal followings that would warrant an alternative multi-volume edition featuring their complete performances (this has already happened with sets by Hendrix and The Who). That would release this movie from the inflated expectations of fans who've waited up to a quarter-century to hopefully see significant chunks of the artists' sets. We could then be more receptive to the story the film-makers are trying to tell."
Better than Woodstock
A. Curran | USA | 01/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1969 Woodstock was the first event of it's kind and a year later the even bigger Isle of Wight Festival was the last. This rockumentary released 25 years after the event is in the vein of 'Woodstock', only better. What sets this apart is the music. The movie gives pretty even coverage to both the music and capturing the hippy vibe of the event. There is a constant tension created by the barrier surrounding the event and the thousands who came without the price of admission. This is similar to what happened at Woodstock but it plays out slightly differently here. The coverage of this tension and the unique festive atmosphere is compelling watching but it is the music that takes center stage. Never was there such a collection of rock icons together at a single event as at the Isle of Wight and this includes the last concert performances by Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrision. Hendrix died a mere 18 days afterwards. The complete lineup of performances in this movie are as follows:
Jimi Hendrix - Message to love
The Who - Young man
Free - All right now
Taste (Rory Gallagher) - Sinner Boy
Tiny Tim - There'll always be an England
John Sebastian - Red Eye Express
Donovan - Catch the wind
10 Years after - Can't keep from crying
The Doors - When the music's over
Moody Blues - Nights in white satin
Kris Kristofferson - Me & Bobby McGee
Joni Mitchell - Woodstock, Big yellow taxi
Miles Davis - Call it anything
Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Pictures at an exhibition
Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun (segment), Voodoo Chile
Joan Baez - Let it be
Jethro Tull - My Sunday Feeling
The Doors - The End Jimi
Hendrix - Foxy Lady
The Who - Naked Eye"
Me$$age To Money
Reyerbrandt (bananapuddin@speedchoi | Glendale, Arizona USA | 11/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In general, I think it's a remarkable video. To think that the video was locked up in someone's vault for so many years is un-thinkable. My only disappointment is that there is too much focus on the events rather than the musical performances. Although, the back stage antics are great. A lot of the music performances are extremely edited-down (as one reviewer noted). Because of that, I am bothered by one question. "What other master-pieces remain hidden inside that vault?" I can only help but feel unfulfilled. For I'm sure that there is more footage out there. Strange enough, additional "private" releases have begun to "slowly" appear after this film became public. From artists such as Jimi Hendrix & The Who. ...But, where are the rest? It's obvious that there is more corporate dealings going on yet. Squeezing out what ever pennies that can be scrounged through the resource of the tapes. Taking advantage of the hungry mouths & pockets of the public. They very thing that was revolted against by the majority of those who witnessed the event. I think they ought to change the title to "Message To Money" instead. However, I admit that I am one of those hungry ones. Aching to see a more complete performance of that venue. Other than what was offered & poorly represented in the video. Like Donovan's performance which lasted only three seconds. And what about Tony Joe White, Melanie, Cactus, & Procol Harum who weren't even included? I have yet to see the complete performance of ELP's debut of "Pictures At An Exhibition". ...I'm wondering if such footage even exists? I guess my message here is to say that "there ought to have been a more complete video made of this event!" Perhaps a sequel? I also like to say, "hurry up on those new releases!" ...That is if any exist? Reyerbrandt"