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Soul Sacrifice montage

by David E. James

Of Woodstock’s many Utopian moments, a supreme highlight is the montage set to Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” initially blocked out by Martin Scorsese. It begins with Carlos Santana’s second solo, with Mike Wadleigh’s long-take of him in the center of a triple-screen. Though the musicians are foregrounded, the montage interweaves Carlos Santana himself, the other band members, individuals in the audience, and the audience at large into a diverse but interdependent unalienated collectivity. The interlaced shots of audience drumming makes them participants in the music and their dancing inserts them into the audio-visual spectacle, rather than positioning them as merely observers of it. But within the montage of the collective dual focus narrative, the editors inserted a metonymic recollection of its individual form, and did so in the terms most crucial for rock 'n' roll: the romance between a white woman and, if not a black man, then certainly a brown-eyed handsome man. In the first close-up, the blonde girl seems unresponsive, but interpolated single-screens of Santana himself in extremis bring her to an exuberant frenzy in which, mirrored in close-up on either side of the guitarist, she physically enacts his music.

Santana Soul Sacrifice montage from Woodstock documentary

Multiple split screens articulate a complex relationship between performers and spectators

from Woodstock (1970)
Creator: Michael Wadleigh
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Posted by David E. James