Screened as part of NZIFF 2002
"Murray Lerner made a film, Message to Love, in 1997 commemorating the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, a conflict-ridden but musically stellar extravaganza in a pastoral British vacation spot. Now, in cooperation with the guitar god’s heirs, he has assembled almost the entire Jimi Hendrix set from the festival... One of the many pleasures of the film, shot just 18 days before Hendrix’s death in London, is catching his laid-back, loopy sense of humor. Right before taking the stage, he hurriedly asks, ‘How does 'God Save the Queen' go? I forget,’ and after tuning up, he starts the show with that... Later, after a couple of songs, he hears an audience member hollering for him to play 'Fire', and he answers, ‘Yeah, we’ll do that… towards the, uh …next time.’ Of course, there would be no next time, and he didn’t play 'Fire' this time either. But he did play an awe-inspiring collection of well-known and more obscure tunes – starting with 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Ban'd and continuing with 'Spanish Castle Magic', 'All Along the Watchtower', 'Foxy Lady' and 'Purple Haze'.
The standout is probably Red House, his classic slow blues on which he plays with an almost painful passion. In typical fashion, his performance is beset by disaster, from faulty amps to perpetually out-of-tune guitars, and yet his music emerges clear-voiced, perfectly on key, and spellbinding. Undoubtedly, this is part of Hendrix’s brilliance – he mastered chaos and turned it into something beautiful.
Blue Wild Angel (which is the name Hendrix says he wants to be introduced by at the show) is absorbing to watch and the remastered sound is a marvel. At the quiet points, it sounds like we’re together with Hendrix in a studio. The loud parts, which is to say most of the film, come through clear and strong…" — Joshua Tanzer, www.offoffoff.com