This documentary, originally broadcast on BBC television, traces the coalition of the "underground" movement in swinging '60s London. Beginning with a groundbreaking 1965 gathering/reading of the Beat poets at the Royal Albert Hall and following with the opening of the Indica bookstore and gallery, the London Free School, the revival of the Notting Hill Carnival, and publication of the first issues of the newspaper International Times, it all culminated in "The 14-hour Technicolor Dream."
The actual happening - much more than just a concert - took place on April 29, 1967 at the Alexandra Palace, and featured scores of bands and other performers including The Pretty Things, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Pete Townshend, the Soft Machine, the Move, Alex Harvey and a pre-John Yoko Ono. Sort-of headlining was the original Pink Floyd, whose cosmic cacophony led by Syd Barrett blared from the stage just as the sun rose about 5 a.m.
And while the DVD does a fine job of tracing the development of the counterculture movement, mostly through contemporary interviews with movers and shakers like John "Hoppy" Hopkins (right, with wife Suzy, aka "Suzy Creamcheese") and Barry Miles (who largely organized the "Dream"), producer Joe Boyd, musician Kevin Ayers, poet/Cream lyricist Pete Brown and others, ultimately, it's a bit of a letdown.
For starters, there is almost no actual footage of the "Dream" event itself or any at all of the performances, save for a short newsreel clip of an acid-hazed John Lennon dropping in. There is also a startling lack of music or performance clips from bands of the era. And whether or not that's due to prohibitive licensing costs or simply the fact that a lot of actual "Dream" footage doesn't exist, it's a bit like watching a documentary on the sinking of the Titanic.
You know it happened, you hear participants talking about it and you see some still photos or grainy footage, but what's missing is seeing the ship go down. Or, in this case, take off into the stratosphere of the mind. - Bob Ruggiero
Eagle Rock Video, $14.98.