Irish Film Institute -GLASTONBURY




Director Julien Temple’s career has contained more ups and downs than a day at a theme park, but things are most definitely in the ascendancy on ‘Glastonbury’. A magical documentary recounting the 35 tumultuous years of the Glastonbury Music Festival, this is an exhilarating experience. As long as you take a vat of mud into the cinema with you and spend two hours queuing to use a toilet, this really is as good as being at the festival itself.

Drawing upon 900 hours of footage submitted by Joe Public, BBC concert material, 450 hours shot by Temple himself and archival news coverage, Glastonbury is a sprawling affair that succeeds because of its kindred spirit to the festival itself: rough rather than polished; organic rather than manufactured. For the most part Temple tells his story chronologically, tracing the festival’s roots as a hippie gathering, through its CND-supporting early 80s and Traveller-infused late 80s. Significantly, as the event becomes less about counter-culture and more about product placement, the documentary’s predominant background noise becomes mobile ringtones.

As well as providing a fascinating social snapshot of Brits at play, Glastonbury is also a celebration of the hundreds of bands who’ve played the festival over the years. Temple never overloads the music – some may consider this a weakness but not this viewer – and selects his acts carefully. Most represent particularly memorable moments in Glastonbury’s history, in particular Pulp’s storming rendition of Common People in the 90s. Put simply, ‘Glastonbury’ rocks.—Adrian Hennigan.

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