Gimme Shelter (1970)
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This musical documentary concerns the Rolling Stones and their tragic free concert at Altamont Speedway near San Francisco in early December 1969. The event was all but destroyed by violence that marked the end of the peace and love euphoria of the 1960s. The night began smoothly, with the supercharged Flying Burrito Brothers opening up for the Rolling Stones and performing the truck-driving classic "Six Days on the Road" and Tina Turner giving a sensually charged performance. But on this particular evening, the Stones made the fateful (and disastrous) decision to hire the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang as bodyguards and bouncers. It was a foolhardy, careless choice that turned the night into an unmitigated disaster; halfway through the Stones' act, the Angels killed one black spectator, and injured several others who were present (including Jefferson Airplane's lead singer Marty Balin). In the film, we watch Mick Jagger -- ere an ebullient, charismatic performer of bisexual charm -- reduced to standing on stage like a frightened child with his finger in his mouth in wake of the violence. Unsurprisingly, the Grateful Dead refused to perform after the violence erupted; the picture ends on a despairing note, with the Stones repeatedly watching a film of the murder. Celebrated documentarians Albert and David Maysles directed and Haskell Wexler shot the film, with heightened instinct and control; as a result, this film is considered one of the greatest rock documentaries ever made. Stones songs performed include "Brown Sugar," "Under My Thumb," and "Sympathy for the Devil." … More
- PG (for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence and language - all concerning teens)
- Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
- Directed By:
- Charlotte Zwerin , David Maysles
- In Theaters:
- Dec 6, 1970 Wide
- On DVD:
- Aug 10, 2000
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Critic Reviews for Gimme Shelter
It's knowing about the killing, and waiting for it to happen on the screen that gives the film its energy and thrust.
This is a seminal rock doc, and the actual music is only a small part of the magic.
'Gimme Shelter' is not a concert film but a statement of a sea change, of the group way back when and of an end to its and the public's innocence and to the counterculture that once flourished.
... put a frame around the notorious Altamont Speedway free concert that became the grim bookend to the decade.
This seminal docu of the Rolling Stones free concert, in which a black youth was stabbed by Hell's Angels, raises crucial questions about cinema verite style, moral ambiguity, complicity, and mass behavior.
The most fascinating aspect about the film is how it traces the anatomy of the disaster that was Altamont.
Though upsetting, the film remains an eye-opening eyewitness report on the counterculture experience in its decline.
A disturbing time capsule that showcases the anti-Woodstock
This look at the Rolling Stones' disastrous concert at Altamont is so chilling it will prevent anyone from ever looking back at the 1960s with rose-colored glasses.
There exist few films that exclaim their time's ideas with such gravity as Gimme Shelter.
Concepts of viewing that are often dealt with subconciously are brought to a blinding light by the Maysles Brothers.
much like the '60s itself: both enthralling and incredibly disturbing
Audience Reviews for Gimme Shelter
Riveting, thought provoking, chaotic and above all unforgettable, Gimme Shelter is a flawless documentary about the tragic free concert at the Altamont Speedway on December 6th, 1969 that was held by The Rolling Stones. The concert's security was The Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, and they brutalized concert goers and members of various bands. Throughout the concert, The Hell's Angels stabbed a concert goer who had a gun. The footage you see here is unlike anything you've ever seen. Brilliantly shot with camera work that is raw, gritty and in your face. Here is a documentary take puts you right in the middle of the chaos and for that it is truly an outstanding piece of work. This is a concert that should have gone off without a hitch, but it didn't. What should have been a fun day quickly turned into a nightmare. The concert goers didn't deserve to be treated as such, and it is truly a disturbing, yet necessary picture that is among the finest rock documentaries ever made. I really loved the film, and I felt that it is an important picture that is brilliant, flawless in its execution and it shows something that you would normally never see. Altamont was a nightmare, disaster and utter chaos of that concert. Only Woodstock 1999 would be just as bad, even worse. But before Woodstock 99, there was Altamont. Gimme Shelter is a film experience that you won't forget, but be warned, this film is intense and the footage is real, all too real. The concert proved one thing, a lack of inexperienced security can ruin something as fun and memorable concert. Violent bikers are not a good idea for security and this film shows exactly that. Gimme Shelter is easily the finest rock documentary ever made, and it shows the ugly side of what can go wrong during a concert. Truly memorable.More
Scary and insane, this catastrophic show it's very good directed by the Maysles Brothers and Charlotte Zwerin. Gimme Shelter is an agonizing documentary with unforgettable footages of a tragic Woodstock, with a powerful shock of different minds and behavior. Shocking and unique.More
A stunning time capsule, capturing it's era perfectly. At times you forget that it is at it's core a Rolling Stones concert film, due to the fact that a lot of time is dedicated to observing the setup and crowd (hippy excess and Hell's Angels confusion/brutality). The fact that the Maysles' were able to capture on film what they did (the infamous stabbing and the end of flower-child ideals) is nothing short of extraordinary. Then there's the Stones! A must for fans of Jagger and company and flawless documentary filmmaking.More
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