On August 20, 1972, more than 100,000 people attended what came to be known as "The Black Woodstock." Wattstax - The Special Edition is the 30th anniversary release of the film that documented that historic event and inclu... more »des the once-lost original ending featuring Isaac Hayes' performances of "Theme From Shaft" and "Soulsville."DVD Features:
Alternate endings:Original 1973 ending, performed by Isaac Hayes
Audio Commentary:Audio commentary by Chuck D, and music historian Rob Bowman Cast and crew commentaries including Isaac Hayes
DVD ROM Features:Links to Wattstax website and related sites
Theatrical Trailer:Original 1973 theatrical trailer 2003 Special Edition trailer« less
"I first discovered the album during my early years as a '70s funk, soul and black music fanatic (in the early 80's) and dreamed of one day actually being able to see the move... For years and years I waited and prayed... probably figuring that something that good had long been lost and destroyed... and finally... ! ! ! - - Although in all honesty the two records actually have much more music than the film, the film is an amazing portrait of urban black life, music and culture in that era... The blacksploitation films presented a fantasy version of it... Wattstax took the cameras out in the community and showed people being for real and talking about... well, life in general. - - and the high point... YES, definitely RUFUS THOMAS's performance, and also Johnnie Taylor at that club that looked like a scene out of THE MAC or some Rudy Ray Moore Film... as well as the less than enthuisiastic response of the audience during the Star Spangled Banner... (Film also features an incredible version of LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING which I don't remember being on the soundtrack (?) - - a commemoration of the tragic WATTS riots and a celebration of how the community was coming to terms and rebuilding itself, in addition to the poignance and political message, and a young (just getting discovered) Richard Pryor's "social commentary"- - the film is also delightfully dated... trust me, you KNOW its the early '70s ! ! ! The only downside is that its over before you knew it..."
"Power to the people, let's go to the stands!"
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 09/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even if the concert movie "Wattstax" had nothing else interesting in it, it would still be totally worth watching for the amazing sequence in which rhythm-and-blues legend Rufus Thomas (a bald, portly, middle-aged man who performs in a long-sleeved pink shirt tucked into red shorts over knee-high go-go boots) encourages the ecstatic crowd to spill out of the stands, onto the football field at the L.A. Coliseum, so they can do the Funky Chicken. They comply. At the end of the song, he tells the huge assortment of several hundred dancing fans that they have to return to their seats and, miraculously, again they comply. But when one odd, umbrella-twirling spectator is reluctant to leave the field, Thomas heckles and teases him then, fed up, asks the crowd to remove him. And, man, they comply; the umbrella man is gone within about 3.6 seconds.
Concerts like that just don't happen anymore and Wattstax, a 1972 festival held to mark the seventh anniversary of the Watts race riots, is a lot more than just a presentation of incredible music (by Thomas, the Staples Singers, the Bar-Kays, Albert King and Isaac Hayes). Director Mel Stuart (who, notably, also made "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory") filmed the entire concert but then decided to intercut footage of church services in the Watts area, man-on-the-street interviews about race (Ted Lange, who later went on to play Isaac on "The Love Boat," angrily weighs in) and very off-the-cuff comedy by Richard Pryor.
The pieces don't always mesh together - and I really wish Stuart hadn't felt compelled to interupt the sets by Albert King and others - but they're all fascinating in their own way and the music is tremendously good. "
M. B Gillespie | NYC | 07/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I feel as though the current editorial review perhaps does a slight disservice surrounding the fact that the film does not exclusively feature the concert footage. When Mel Stuart originally looked at the footage from the show he has said that he felt as though the concert needed a context. It needed to be appreciated as being informed by (but not a mere reflection) of a distinct cultural experience. If he hadn't, we would be left with just the art and not the inspiration. Exploring these things together in his film makes for a rather interesting and fun time. So then, rather than offer a standard and totalizing explanation, he opted for interviews and episodic footage which includes among other things: churches, broken hearts, pimps, Love Boat bartenders, streetcorner philosophers, and Richard Pryor. The effect is the sense that blackness isn't a neat package. You see, while the film is a nice document of black power peaking, there are a lot of different definitions of blackness that are featured as much as there are the different kinds of music performed at the show. I would also note that the DVD includes the original footage of Isaac Hayes' performance (which due to issues w/ MGM) was cut before the film's release. Overall its an incredibly nice film. There's a lot of good music and the film definitely has a lot more to offer beyond being tagged unfortunately as the Black Woodstock. It's STAX records. Come on. Rufus' shorts, the Bar-Kays? hair, Johnnie Taylor and the pimps parade, the woman in the red dress, the innumerable samples Public Enemy got from this film...Try it."
Truly Worth The Wait
Soletaker | New Jersey | 09/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have waited years to see this. I know that there have been bootlegs of this film floating around for years, but I never seen it. I'm glad I've waited for a proper release as this has the true ending with Issac Hayes doing Shaft.
A truly amazing movie, which captures the essence of the culture, and gives you the insight of how things were during those times in the early 70's. So much emotion in it that, you feel like you are taking part of the event yourself.
I love the footage they had with people talking. I saw a couple of people that would go on to have a acting career in the film. I saw Issac from the Loveboat up on there and Ned the Whino( I forgot his real name ). I guess this is what got their acting career started.
The skits with Richard Pryor were comedy classics. So many people copied his style over the years.
I was amazed when Rufus Thomas got all those people to go back to their seats after they all came onto the field during his performance. It was one guy that didn't go back to his seat and Rufus was just clowning him and had everyone laughing at him. Priceless.
There had to been 100,000 people that attended that show and not one fight. If this were to happen today you would have had body bags galore out there. There is no respect in music now.
It's sad to think that Stax as record company would be no more just a few years later. Watching this movie, you couldn't even see that as a possibility. Probably the last great moment in soul music.
Just a classic film that I recommend to anybody that appreciates real soul music and its history. "
Clearin' up the Facts
cjbeats | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Wattstax concert took place in 1973-- 8 years after the Watts Riots. It was a benefit funded by Watts Records to "help the people of Watts, and give our artists exposure in Los Angeles," (quoted Al Bell, then president of Stax Records). Proceeds went to the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, the Martin Luther King Hospital and the Watts Summer Festival. This movie is a must-see. Aside from the [great] music, there are interviews with working-class black Angelenos which give you a look at the political and social climate at that point in time. Jessie Jackson's opening speech is inspirational. Richard Pryor's ongoing commentary is pure genius. Isaac Hayes and Rufus Thomas' performances are big highlights as well as the sweet, soulful outpouring performed by the Emotions in a small chapel in Watts. See it while it's in the theatres. I don't know of a video release."