FLASHING ON THE SIXTIES
A TRIBAL DOCUMENT (DVD)
Leonard Maltin on Video
A time trip back to the decade of peace and love -- the Sixties. I'm Leonard Maltin on Video. The Sixties was a sharply-defined decade, and the fallout from that period is still being felt in this country. That's what makes Lisa Law's documentary Flashing On The Sixties so relevant. This time-trip to the era of peace and love is no mere nostalgia trip. Through interviews, home movies, photographs, and songs it traces the source of a movement -- and the goals of a disaffected generation searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. Interviewees include well-known figures like Timothy Leary and Dennis Hopper, as well as lesser-known leaders and participants in this extraordinary period of American history. Flashing On The Sixties many not be the definitive statement on those times--but it's eloquent, entertaining, even moving. If you missed this hour-long show on cable TV, it's worth catching on video.
"This is one for the time capsule. Directed by Lisa Law, and based on her photographic book of the same name, "Flashing On The '60s" is an excellent, refreshing look back at the decade of love, peace, and social change .....this program serves up fond memories to those who lived these events and provides a valuable history lesson to those too young to remember."
Malcolm MacKinnon High Times, 1994
It's about time we stop talking about the '60s as if the decade were the dawn of cremation. I think we've all just about heard enough reverential, fluttery homage to a time that continues to recreate itself in our nation's imagination.
That's why Flashing On The Sixties (Flashback Productions; Lisa Law, dir.) a documentary by Lisa Law, is such a welcome shot of fresh air. Law, a full-time activist whose photos have been published widely, was there and she had the footage to prove it.
From Haight Ashbury to the commune scene, Law recorded the events around her with a clear eye. Interweaving previously unreleased eight-millimeter footage of Woodstock and the celebrations with black and white stills from her own considerable stock, Law sheds some knowing light on a puzzling period in recent American history.
The film's best moments are when Peter Coyote is on screen. The always articulate former-San Francisco-Digger-turned-movie-star speaks about the spiritual aspects of hippie life without sounding like a yinned-out-acid-head. His comments on the artificial power derived from cocaine use are also startlingly direct.
Coyote is joined by Easy Rider co-stars Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, as well as Wavy Gravy, Ram Dass and many others who shared in the'60 explosion.
Law doesn't let you forget for a second that the Vietnam War fueled the decade. In the film's quirkiest departure, Law finds time to profile a homeless Vietnam bet. The Vietnam War may have been a catalyst for great change, but it also produced casualties. Some of them are still with us, and Law allows us to hear their voice.
Retrospectives, documentaries, remembrances and other recorded blather have elbowed their way into defining the '60s Flashing on the '60s however, is a cogent appraisal of a time we secretly miss. Some of that Hippie idealism lingers on long after pressing the eject button.
Collected here are not only philosophical musings, but some great personal stories such as Dennis Hopper's telling of Dylan's writing "The Ballad of Easy Rider," or Viet Nam vet Craig Preston's account of his homeless life in Golden Gate Park. The book not only contains a gala of famous names (Leary, Fonda, Ginsberg, Taj Mahal), but also chronicles many of the behind-the-scenes characters and movers-and-shakers from the flower-power years (Mountain Girl, Jahanara Romney, Viola Spolin, Ron Thelin, Rick Klein) who have equally integral stories to tell. And while some of the interviews are more engaging and lucid than others, there is remarkable agreement amongst the reunion members gathered between the 285 pages of this book. To this elite crew, the '60s were "a time when we were living more consciously and closer to the earth." As might be expected in such a gathering of unorthodox characters, there are epiphanal moments, such as Timothy Leary's impassioned eulogy to Abbie Hoffman, Peter Coyote's well-spoken historical overview of the implications of the '60s on present day global culture, complete with his conclusion off "we knew we were having an effect!" and Allen Ginsberg's and Oscar Janiger's intelligent insights into the metaphysics of it all all. It is fitting that Law ends her book by interviewing her own daughter, Pilar, a clear-headed young adult who provides the bridge for the '60s into the '90s. Pilar's response to her mother's question about drugs in the '90s- "the drug of the '90s is clean air!" -offers tangible evidence that the concerns and values of the '60s are being passed down to the next generation who have invented their own "freak flag" and are raising it up the pole of the new millennium.
In the end, nobody said it better than Abbie Hoffman. His last words to a public audience before his perplexing and paradoxical suicide in 1989 are still the best last word to the revisionists and exists as a refrain for the song that was the 60s: "Yes, we were young, we were silly, we made mistakes, we were obstinate, we were nave, but we were right!"
"...a first rate look at how a new consciousness, an ethos that celebrated both the environment and an inner spirituality, evolved during the Sixties."
"I loved the film. Flashing On The Sixties is the only film I've seen that conveys the spirituality and unity of the alternative lifestyles of the sixties as an extended family unit."
"It is a wonderful diary of the times" "It is sweat and powerful" .. "A warm informing and historic diary of the moment ....shows how those of us from that wondrous era have come through the many years with the philosophy of healing our planet. Our home."
"It is a Work of Art." Carl Gottlieb: " Flashing On The Sixties marries nostalgia to contemporary events in a special and accessible way. Not only is it relevant, it's fun."
"Lisa was there. She had her eyes open. She never copped out and she got a real good piece of it on the film."
High Times Magazine
"....a cogent appraisal of a time we secretly miss"