Murray Lerner, director of "Message to Love", introduced it saying
that it was not a retrospective of the Isle of Wight rock festival and certainly
not chronological. But it capturesthe essence well. In it, the last stage
performances by Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison with the Doors punctuate the
segments that Lerner has put together.
The festival was thought up by two middle-class lads who decide to put on
a show to rival Woodstock. Well, the self-righteousness of the hippie era
shows as the concert-goers refuse to ante up admission and the artists refuse
to perform without being paid. For the music alone, this time-capsule is
well worth its 126 minutes. Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez perform
while the chaos continues. Kris Kristofferson walks off the stage during
"Me and Bobby McGee" when the pounding noise from those outside
the steel admission fence disrupts his performance. The five-day 'tribal
gathering' of 600,000 poignantly points to the commercial nature of music
while lightly lampooning the drug culture and its 'love and peace' message.
The residents of the island are also teased. The local constable has offered
amnesty to anyone who turns in their drugs and is surprised when no one
takes him up. A retired Naval Intelligence Commander suspects the whole
thing is a communist plot with undertones of 'black power'. But inside
the festival, everything is groovy. Commercialism is a bummer. Pass the
joint and enjoy the vibes. And hope we don't get sued.