Half a million people traveled to Bethel, New York, on August 15, 1969, to attend the legendary Woodstock Music Festival. The event was ground zero for the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” counterculture of the 1960s. It endures as a widely discussed cultural touchstone to this day.
Part of the reason Woodstock is so widely remembered is because the event was documented extensively. The most well-known record of the concert is likely the 1970 documentary “Woodstock.”
The film not only captures a large chunk of the music performed at the festival — including Jimi Hendrix’s famous rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” — but also the atmosphere of the event as it takes an intimate look at the behavior and attitudes of performers and attendees. Movie critic Roger Ebert called it “a beautiful, moving, ultimately great film.”
Ironically, the festival also inspired another, terrible film. These are the worst movies based on true events.
As the 50th anniversary of the most famous “3 days of peace and music” (as it was marketed) in American history draws near , 24/7 Tempo has identified the greatest concert films of all time.
Concert films can vary greatly in their approach. Some rely heavily on interviews with musicians, while others focus on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a live performance. Some even incorporate a fictional narrative. Involvement of an exceptionally popular rock act helps, even if all of the most popular rock bands of all time are not all featured here. All of the greatest concert films have one thing in common, however: a magnificent musical performance at their core.
To determine the greatest concert films of all time, 24/7 Tempo ranked feature-length films that prominently feature live footage from a singular concert, festival, or tour. For each movie, we considered the Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and IMDb average user rating. We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critics rating. To be considered, each film needed to have at least 10 critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and at least 1,000 user ratings on IMDb.