Jimi Hendrix: Rainbow Bridge
The movie is about an outsider (Pat Hartley) visiting a religious hippie cult on Maui in 1970. It called itself (or at least its location) the “Rainbow Bridge Occult Research Meditation Center.” It’s like a 60s* version of Slacker. Her journey starts in LA with the Jesus Freaks making their pitches, then continues on to Maui with these really cosmic, beautiful people who are searching for spiritual enlightenment through any means necessary. Then Jimi Hendrix shows up, lays a cosmic rap on his hosts including something about hanging with Cleopatra, flirts with Pat a lot, then plays this outdoor show at the mercy of the winds of the volcanic landscape. They called the concert the “Rainbow Bridge Vibratory Color/Sound Experiment.”
This movie is categorized as a documentary. Not really sure if the definition holds, as there is a rough script. People are playing themselves and often (or mostly) seemingly ad-libbing – just saying whatever they, themselves, would say at that moment. The fact that they are mostly not actors and are playing themselves creates lots of unintentionally hilarious dialogue. If everybody is high and the cameras are rolling, you are bound to capture some crazy crap.
Hendrix’s manager was into this group, and invested. They decided to make a film and Chuck Wein (from Andy Warhol’s Factory bunch) got involved and brought along Pat Hartley, who was another Warhol star and all-around foxy lady.
This is not really a Jimi Hendrix concert film, but it does contain some very interesting and important footage of Hendrix, both in concert and candid. It was his second to last ever American performance (July 30, 1970**) – an outdoor show set up near a Maui volcano – but him being part of it is just a sprinkle of flavor. It’s a small piece of the whole.
This is a good article written by something who was there and involved with the film. I recommend reading that, and watching this film too - especially if you don't mind the B-movie quality and want to have a laugh or two. Very trippy. Couldn't help wondering how many of these people ended up in the Tea Party or something.
*And it’s a 60s movie even though it was shot in 1970 and released a few years later. Culturally it's definitely 60s.
** I got to see Hendrix myself just a little over 3 weeks earlier than that at the Atlanta Pop Festival.