I will forever be grateful for Netflix for many things. Among them, the convenience of being able to choose from thousands of films and series without having to leave the house (remember video stores?) and the vast choice of foreign titles, resulting in my penchant for Nordic crime dramas and Asian thrillers.
But perhaps, the most amazing feature offered by the streaming giant is the gargantuan choice of documentaries offered to viewers. Nature, the economy, war, every single facet of life has a dedicated documentary on Netflix. And I try to watch as many as I can.
The latest one, which made it to the global top 10 in just under three days, is an absolute gem, one for the ages. Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 tells the story of the infamous music festival held from July 22 to July 25, 1999 outside New York, which tried to emulate the original 1969 Woodstock festival.
Alas, the endeavour turned out to be a disaster, as the festival was heavily and irreversibly marred by extreme environmental conditions and despicable episodes of violence, sexual assault, looting and vandalism.
The documentary, divided in three episodes, draws a parallelism between the original “Festival of Love” and the revised 90s version, ending up highlighting a much-changed society, ruled by ruthless capitalism and poor planning.
The amount of footage obtained by the producers of the docu-series is simply breathtaking and several scenes depicting the toxic atmosphere at the festival are downright horrific.
Director Jamie Crawford does a wonderful job in attempting to nail down how and why the disaster took place, who was responsible for it and how it could have been avoided.
Interviews with promoters John Scher and Michael Lang, who unsurprisingly try to deflect the blame, make their way throughout the entire documentary, but, in my opinion, the most riveting account of atmosphere of the event is the one provided by Korn’s lead singer Jonathan Davies.
Korn was one of the most popular bands in the world at the time – crazy, right? – and Davies’ expressions when reminiscent of the festival are alone worth the entire series.
This is not Netflix’s first documentary about a failed music festival. A few years ago, Fyre sent shockwaves across the music industry. I can only imagine what sort of reactions Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 will spur!