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Morrissey at Glasto (Venetia Dearden and Pathe)
Morrissey at Glastonbury

Review: Glastonbury (the film)

Helen Otter
Julien Temple's Glastonbury had its UK premiere at Strode Theatre in Street on Sunday 9 April, 2006. Read a review of the film, and listen to interviews with the director and the Glasto guru himself, Michael Eavis.

You can listen to the interviews with Michael Eavis and Bridgwater's Julien Temple talking about the film, by clicking on these links:

audio Interview: Julien Temple >
audio Interview: Michael Eavis >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

It was a Sunday night, the sounds of David Bowie playing Glastonbury were whirling around my head, and I was stuck to my seat in a theatre in Street, memorised and transfixed by the ride Julien Temple's new Glastonbury film had just taken me on.

From its opening soundtrack of squelching, muddy footsteps, this is a film that takes you straight into the festival, no matter where you're watching it.

Julien Temple (Venetia Dearden and Pathe)
Julien Temple filming at Glastonbury

It's a roller coaster of a journey, not just of Glasto's history and how it's changed over the years, but of all the emotions you feel throughout that one weekend in June, whilst on that very special farm in Somerset.

"I wanted to create a sense of being there at Glastonbury," Julien told me, when I chatted to him after the screening. "A feeling of being there with the crowd, and of what it's actually like to be at the festival."

Chaos, euphoria, wise words and toilets!

Because of the emotion the movie inspires, it's a film that draws you in - you become involved and wrapped up in it.

I'm not exactly sure how (the magic of movie-making, I guess), but whilst watching the film, you undergo the same feelings as if you were actually at Glastonbury - the excitement of travelling to the site; the euphoria of seeing an incredible band on the Pyramid Stage; the bizarreness of those random (but never-to-be-forgotten) encounters with crazy people; the feeling of dread - nay, fear - of when it's time to brace yourself to use the Glasto loos again; to the despair you feel at the end of it all, when the festival's over for another year, and it's time to head back to reality.

"I feel really good about showing the film in Somerset. It's where I come from, and it's where the movie belongs."
Julien Temple

The apparent chaos and haphazardness of the film suits the story of the festival right down to the muddy Worthy Farm ground - for me, that's what Glastonbury's all about.

Amateur footage is combined with Julien's filming, which is edited together with material from 30 years ago, which sits beside film from the 2005 festival, which is all interspersed with clips of some of the iconic performances over the years - Morrissey, Coldplay, Babyshambles, Levellers, Radiohead, David Bowie, Faithless, Billy Bragg, Chemical Brothers, Rolf Harris, Orbital, Pulp, Primal Scream, and Velvet Underground to name just a few.

The obstacles the festival has encountered along the way are also dealt with - from local opposition and travellers' riots, to mud and gatecrashers, to the fence and Mean Fiddler's involvement.

There are some wonderfully funny moments in it too, which perfectly sum up Glasto - watch out for the clip of a guy stumbling around, searching for his tent (in a big field full of them) shouting in his mobile: "Are you sure you're in the same place we were earlier?"

My favourite bits of the film have to be the long-bearded, old-time, hippy-like festival-goer who has many a wise word to say about the world today, as well as the truly gross clip of how those legendary Glasto loos are cleaned out.

Be warned that detail is not shied away from in this segment - you quite literally get to see the whole contents of the toilets. Having said that, it is a clip where you will instantly bond with your fellow audience-members, as your stomachs turn in a collective feeling of pure revulsion!

Pulp at Glasto (Venetia Dearden and Pathe)
Pulp at Glastonbury

"That part of the film grounds you," Julien told me. "You're on an exhilarating trip throughout the festival - you can get so inspired by the sounds, the music, the people you meet.

"But then you have to remember that when that many people come together, they are human beings, and they do have to go to the loo. And the loo is not a good place to go."

Never a truer word said!

A magical journey to a special place

Whilst watching it, I did keep thinking to myself how it's pretty darn cool that all this madness happens right here in sleepy old Somerset. That something which means so much to so many people, and which is now arguably part of our national culture, comes from a place just down the road.

Julien agrees: "I feel really good about showing the film in Somerset. It's where I come from, and it's where the movie belongs."

Leaving the theatre on a high, feeling a whirl of emotions, and desperately wishing that Glastonbury was on this year, I did try to persuade Michael Eavis to organise a 2006 festival after all.

Alas, my heartfelt imploring was to no avail (and a bit embarrassing now I think back on it), but at least Michael's chuffed with the film: "I'm very pleased that there's a record of my life.

Michael Eavis (Venetia Dearden and Pathe)
A young Michael Eavis at Glastonbury

"There's been a lot of frustration over the years, but it shows the festival in a good light, and I'm just high about the whole thing."

Exhilarating and inspirational, this is a film which will keep you going through the long, dark months spent waiting for the next Glastonbury, and the even longer, even darker fallow years when there is no festival.

My advice to get yourself through? Get out your tent, take your TV out to the garden, play the film, turn it up loud, and let yourself be taken on a magical journey, to that special place that is Glastonbury Festival.

Glastonbury receives its television premiere at 10.30pm on Saturday 15 July, 2006, on BBC TWO

last updated: 11/07/06
Have Your Say
You can leave your comments about the film here.
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Jim Jones
Did the film really need to be so long?Mr Temple could have produced exactly the same film in half an hour,it became tiresome and annoying.Eavis cam across as being a grumpy farmer. Notimpressed.

Phill Hodgkins
The best and most uplifting film i have seen in a very long time.

I have such great memories of Glastonbury long ago, but, yes, the mud, etc.

Chris Amos
Let it be let it be, let it be yeah let it be, may there always be, a Glastonbury....

Blue May
Hi, I have been going to glastonbury for a good few years, can i just say that this film brings the warmest sensation back to me.. glastonbury is the highlight of my year when it is on, and i have missed it so much this year..... What an amazing thing... Makes it all worth it. BEAUTIFUL FILM.

Jeff Linehan
Hey, I was at the festival in 2005. Reading that review got me thinkin about all the craziness that went on. Im in the middle of my college exams so it's great to get a big smile on my face. Can't wait for next year!!!

just been to see the film and it was amazing, really felt like i was back in the dream that is glastonbury once again! Loved all the older footage of past festivals a real one to watch for any glastonbury lover.

andy m
i can only say 'glastonbury' is the pinnacle of every year. and julien temple has captured the magic it gives to all

karl powell
Sounds great , so loking forward to watching this , roll on 2007

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