Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Richard James Havis
    100
    Festival Express should rightfully take its place in rock history as one of the great performance films of all time.
  2. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    100
    Must-see cinema for any serious rock fan.
  3. 100
    The real attraction is watching all these guys and gals on the train, so young, so dedicated to their music, so unconcerned about almost everything else.
  4. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    100
    Rich with wonderful music and images.
  5. 100
    Ultimate geezerfest and rock-doc holy grail.
  6. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    100
    An instant ancillary classic for music fan.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Harrington
    100
    Most of Festival Express resonates with the power and passion, even the innocence, of the era.
  8. 90
    The sociological angle of Festival Express is a narrow one--perhaps too narrow--and doesn't overwhelm the film's real selling point, which is some of the best-looking and best-sounding footage of counterculture icons ever screened.
  9. 90
    To watch the biggest stars of their time in casual conversation, trading riffs and passing bottles, without benefit of publicists, handlers and security goons is to relive an innocent, anarchic time in the entertainment business when music, not marketing, was at the center of the enterprise.
  10. 90
    A delirious piece of pop ephemera.
  11. It was the greatest rock & roll party you never heard of.
  12. The results are spine-tingling. There's only one thing to say about this movie and its rescuers, recovered from the dead--and the Dead: Rock on.
  13. A raucous, riveting account of the greatest party you were never invited to.
  14. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    83
    Slight on personality but long on music; Janis Joplin elevates it to near-great concert-film status.
  15. To watch Joplin, Rick Danko, Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart, all massively wasted, giggling and jamming, is a delight tempered by the knowledge that Joplin would be dead just months later, with the rest but one following after.
  16. Reviewed by: Kevin Crust
    80
    There were greater rock festivals and there are greater rock movies, but nothing existed quite like this mobile bacchanal, nicely preserved in Festival Express.
  17. Full of bright colors, offbeat people, tuneful sounds.
  18. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    75
    A hard and hilariously ironic look at the bottom line. As it turns out, love was not all you needed; hard cash came in handy, too.
  19. 75
    As this Woodstock-on-wheels careens through the countryside, stopping only to play for thousands of hirsute revelers -- and, once, to stock up on booze in Saskatoon -- its famous passengers celebrate with delirious joy the pure, unadulterated magic of music.
  20. Both a concert film and a more intimate thing: a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall (or fly-in-the-dining-car) glimpse of some clearly blotto rock legends talking, singing, hanging out. The fact that a good number of them are now dead makes it doubly memorable.
  21. Reviewed by: Steve Morse
    75
    Extraordinary.
  22. The film is not about the audience's shared experience, and a lot more about how cool it is to have a backstage pass.
  23. Reviewed by: Bill White
    75
    With the exception of some minor glitches in the sound synchronization and a nighttime performance of The Band's "The Weight" that is uncharacteristically grainy, the film looks and sounds great.
  24. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    70
    A piece of rock-and-roll history--but it isn't perfect.
  25. 70
    The concert footage is generally quite good, and Joplin is astonishing, but with so many hours of footage you'd think there would be more unexpected moments.
  26. 60
    The result is a vivid record of live acts whose rough-edged immediacy is an integral part of their appeal.

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