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A view on Blu-ray by Brian Montgomery


Monterey Pop [Blu-ray]


(D.A. Pennebaker, 1968)






Review by Brian Montgomery



Theatrical: The Foundation

Blu-ray: Criterion



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:19:29.181

Disc Size: 49,708,485,793 bytes

Feature Size: 33,676,413,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 22nd, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 0 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps






• Audio commentary by Festival producer Lou Adler and Pennebaker

• Video interview with Adler and Pennebaker

• Audio interviews with festival producer John Phillips, festival publicist Derek Taylor, and performers Cass Elliot and David Crosby

• Photo-essay by photographer Elaine Mayes

• Original theatrical trailer and radio spots

• Monterey Pop Festival scrapbook

• A booklet featuring essays by critics Michael Lydon, Barney Hoskyns, and Armond White



The Film:

"Monterey Pop" a contemporary music film—in the relatively fresh tradition of "Festival" and "Don't Look Back." The movie, filmed by Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker, with the collaboration of Albert Maysles and other independent filmmakers, is an upbeat, color documentary of the 1967 pop-music festival in Monterey, Calif. It stars the Mamas and the Papas, the Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, the Who and other singing groups. From the moment Scott Mackenzie's "If you're going to San Francisco" comes onto the track and screen, it is clear that this is one good way to do a musical.

Excerpt of review from Renata Alder located HERE


Image:    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The detail here isn't as sharp as some of the other BDs released by Criterion, but it's a simple fact that not every film upped to 1080p will look as good as last Summer's blockbuster. As the accompanying booklet tells us, the print print was transferred from the "original 16 mm camera reversal and the 35 mm duplicate negative". The fact that the film was originally shot with a 16 mm camera accounts for some of the softness in certain scenes and the overall grainy appearance of the film. But don't be fooled by this fact. The image here is by far the best that the film will ever look, easily running circles around the standard definition release from 2002. What's more, the print, which was supervised by Pennebaker himself, showcases the loving care that Criterion put into this release, removing as the booklet states, thousands of instances of dirt and damage. Although there are a few instances of damage that still crop up, they are very minor and not distracting in the least. Overall, this is a very impressive effort and indicative of why Criterion has come out as one of the early leaders in Blu-Ray picture quality.
















Audio & Music:

For this release, sound engineer Eddie Kramer remixed the concert's original 8-Track recordings and in the process cleaned up all of the hisses, pops, and cracks that plagued them. The soundtrack is offered in three different versions, an original and remixed uncompressed stereo mix, and a remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. In my estimation, the last track is easily the way to go. The songs really come to life here and, well, everything sounds about as crisp and clear as it possibly can. While it may sound hyperbolic, I can honestly say that this is likely the best sounding track that I've ever encountered on a disc. It's a perfect 10 out of 10.




At the time that Criterion released this on DVD, it was one of their most impressive packages that they had ever put together. Now, 8 years later, that still holds true. This disc is filled to the brims with extra features that cover both the inception of the concert, the concert itself, and its effect on pop culture. Of most value in my opinion is the commentary track featuring Pennebaker and concert co-producer Lou Adler. Sadly, co-producer John Philips of the Mamas and the Papas was originally scheduled to take part in the commentary but was too sick to do so at the time of the recording. The commentary covers a wide range of issues and gives you a good idea of what it was like to stage and film the concert. Next we get a series of interviews. Pennebaker and Adler recorded video interviews for this release back in 2001, and there are also fascinating audio only interviews with John Phillips, Cass Elliot, David Crosby, and Derek Taylor. Next, there is what the disc labels as "Festival Ephemera", consisting of pictures taken by photographer Elaine Mayes and stills from the original festival program that have to be seen to be believed. Also included are a series of theatrical trailers and radio spots, along with information on the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation. Next, there's a 46 page booklet featuring essays commissioned for the 2002 release. Last, but certainly not least, there's roughly two hours worth of amazing outtakes from the performers at the show.

Note: Criterion has chosen to release two editions of this film. "The Complete Monterey Pop Festival" contains the additional shorts "Jimi Pays Monterey" and "Shake: Otis at Monterey" (Reviewed HERE) and this set, which does not contain them.



Bottom line:

As I've already said, this was one of Criterion's most impressive releases on DVD, and the jump to HD only makes it better. Monterey Pop was arguably the greatest music festival of all time, and this package makes you feel like you were there. I give this my highest recommendation and encourage all music lovers to make sure that this is in their collection.

Brian Montgomery
February 18th, 2010










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