In an effort to increase the tolerability of the fallow years – the years in which only the cows get to fully appreciate the fields of Worthy Farm – filmmakers have adopted these Glastonbury gaps for their own, taking the opportunity to release big screen promos for the greatest weekend on Earth. Thanks to the re-issue of Robin Mahoney’s fly on the tent look at the 1993 Glasto, 2012 doesn’t need to be quite so free of Pilton pleasure as first thought.
Back in 2006, Julien Temple released arguably the quintessential documentary on the subject, simply titled Glastonbury. It explained, by way of the Eavises as a guide, the origins, the history and the future of a small city that pops up once a year for five days whose sole purpose is to give people an experience that they can’t match in their everyday lives. With talking heads and legendary performances Temple’s Glastonbury was the type of exhaustive doc that you could show to an alien race to not only explain what the festival is, but also why humans deserve not to be annihilated. In short, it was a masterpiece.
Glastonbury The Movie (In Flashback) is an entirely different cow shaped beast altogether but one that is no more or less Worthy. It’s a film that makes no attempt to tell a narrative other than “people visit field, people have fun at field, people leave field”. Filmed in Cinemascope and touched up both audibly and visually for the reissue, GTM(IF)‘s sole intent is to give you an hour and a half of folks aimlessly wandering around having a bloody good time. There’s the occasional overhead snippet of conversation and infrequent respites from walking to appreciate some music (The Lemonheads, The Verve, Spiritualized and The Orb all appear for roughly a minute each) but for the main this is a film made up of nothing more than nomadic bodies set to some early 90’s tunes.
That this prospect of an hour and a half of moving crowds still holds up as quite an enticing one is testament to both the festival itself and the filmmakers’ decision to be nothing more than a floating body. For those who have never travelled down Somerset way it might feel like pulling teeth but for anyone who has witnessed first hand the sights and sounds and tastes and touches of Michael’s yearly bash it’s a beautiful home video held together with a decidedly unprofessional nature but one which is part of the charm (the split-screen nature in particular screams student video).
Nestled in that ‘student video aesthetic’ is the other draw of the the film, the ability to
see what Glastonbury was like almost 20 years ago, before The Great Wall. Yet behind the floppy hair failing into curtains, the superabundance of ecstasy-inspired neon and the occasional glimpse of Dexter Fletcher, it’s surprising to see how much is the same, how much is so distinctly Glastonbury. Pretty girls in pretty dresses and topless geezers with granite bodies. Haphazard poetry and lovely, lovely whackjobs. Pre-dawn odysseys culminating in a trip to the Stone Circle for sunrise. Every frame evokes a wave of nostalgic longing and longing nostalgia. Even the never-changing font on the signage will give Glastonites a warm glow.
It’s not and never could be “even better than the real thing” but if you’ve been spending the past week looking to fill a 1100 acre hole Glastonbury The Movie (In Flashback) will do just that.
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It might not rival Temple’s 2006 effort for in-depth coverage and historical significance but it’ll certainly warm your Worthy-less hearts until June 2013. You won’t get a more accurate feel for what Glastonbury is, and was, short of strapping a helmet camera on a festival goer’s head and supplying them with unlimited pills and ‘Cider Bus’ cider. Come to think of it that’s a great idea for a film. Coming to cinemas in 2017, Glastonbury POV, with a running time of 144 hours plus.