Review of Glastonbury Fayre (2018)

Moving picture, 87 minutes

Seen in 2023.

The second Glastonbury Fayre of music, which took place on drugs in 1971.

A British Woodstock (1970), where the music is less important. Glastonbury was incidentally the site of an abbey, one of those reformed by early Anglo-Saxon kings of a “united” England in the tenth century. The dubious chronicler William of Malmesbury describes one reformer, King Edgar the Peaceful, as “an especial slave to lust”. Edgar was buried at Glastonbury in 975 CE. The 1971 festival at Glastonbury has a similar mix of spiritual ambitions over a foundation of hedonism and bad ideas. The difference is that the youths of 1971 were pro-pagan, where the Anglo-Saxon kings of 1000 years before had been anti-pagan.

I saw this documentary mainly because it was directed by Nicolas Roeg and has his wonderfully fluid observational style, where neither the abbey nor any historical exposition could possibly appear. It is a good document of its time, though it says even less about normal society than Woodstock. It’s quite funny. When one of the men building the stage is asked whether he’s an architect—a profession—he replies that he is a constructivist, which is a philosophical persuasion. Later, an Anglican minister tries to reach out to the youth.

moving picture non-fiction