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|Format||Color, Multiple Formats, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned|
|Contributor||Hayes, Isaac, Jackson, REV Jesse, Stuart, Mel, Pryor, Richard|
|Number of discs||1|
|Runtime||1 hour and 38 minutes|
Filmmaker Mel Stuart chronicles a 1972 concert commemorating the 1965 uprising in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Richard Pryor, the Staple Singers, the Emotions perform. On August 20, 1972, more than 100,000 people attended what came to be known as "the black Woodstock.]A 1972 concert commemorates 1965 Watts uprising.]0]]Mel Stuart]]]Richard Pryor]Jesse Jackson]Isaac Hayes]]]]]]]
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product dimensions : 1.78 x 19.05 x 13.72 cm; 81.65 Grams
- Item Model Number : 34997
- Director : Stuart, Mel
- Media Format : Color, Multiple Formats, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned
- Run time : 1 hour and 38 minutes
- Release date : 10 January 2006
- Actors : Pryor, Richard, Hayes, Isaac, Jackson, REV Jesse
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified
- Studio : Warner Home Video
- ASIN : B000294U6E
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
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The concert was hosted by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who speaks his now-legendary "I Am Somebody" sermon. Highlights of the show include the Staple Singers ("Respect Yourself"), The Bar-Kays ("Son of Shaft"), Johnnie Taylor ("Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone") Albert King ("I'll Play the Blues for You"), and Rufus Thomas ("The Funky Chicken"). "Shaft" composer and future "South Park" icon Isaac Hayes got to close the show, and the DVD restores most of his performance (Warner Bros. Pictures controlled the copyright to the "Shaft" movie songs and refused clearance for the film, which was originally released through Columbia Pictures; the original movie footage of Hayes was rather brief, which perhaps damaged its box office run).
Interspersed between the concert footage are man-on-the-street interviews with assorted locals, who get to opine without censorship on various issues of the day. A pre-"Love Boat" Ted Lange is among them (his prematurely graying mustache lending unintentional humor to his young-guy rants). Also bookending many segments is Richard Pryor, whose similarly uncensored dialogue make some affecting points about uncomfortable subjects, from slavery to police brutality to unemployment. That he manages to find humor in the brutality of racism speaks to the genius of the late comic.
Wattstax, released in the midst of the "blaxploitation" movie trend, was a then-unheard of snapshot of the state of black America as buffered through the music of its artists. There are many establishing shots of storefronts in black neighborhoods: ramshackle churches abound, as well as other starkly blighted structures. As one resident puts it, "some things have changed for the better... some for the worst... a lot of things have stayed the same.." Whatever the physical costs of the civil rights movement (there is brief footage included of Dr. Martin Luther King's final speech) the emotional wounds were still fresh. "Black is beautiful" was the catchphrase of the day, and Afrocentric styles of hair and fashion were at a pre-disco peak (however the flamboyant `players' who come to see a nightclub show anticipate the "me decade" excess that was to come). Based on footage shown, the assembly team who put together the stage in the middle of the field is mostly white; however, according to commentator Rob Bowman, Stax boss Al Bell insisted that the private security be black as well as any LAPD involved.
This is a great DVD to have for anybody interested in black history, soul music, or both.
I was expecting Soul music and Richard Pryor only to get an old Saturday morning cartoon