The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Until about half way through the documentary, the film is still primarily a documentary about the Stones. But once the cameras get to Altamount, the crew (which included as a cameraman young filmmaker George Lucas, though none of Lucas's film was included in the film due to a camera jam) catches the increasingly nasty atmosphere at the concert, with fans ascending the stage, fighting with the Hell's Angels, fighting with each other. The Grateful Dead, scheduled to play, declined to do so when they heard that Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane had been beaten up onstage by the Angel's (we see a brief shot of Jerry Garcia reacting incredulously to the news of the violence). By the end of the film, the viewer is left with a completely sickened feeling of the stupidity of everything he or she has just seen.Read more ›
The Maysles Brothers and Charlotte Zwerin are famous for making documentaries about bible salesmen, old women in decaying mansions, and artists creating art. "Gimme Shelter" is doubly a shock because these somber and almost grim documentarians have been able to put across a rock and roll film that gives you a feeling of the power of music and the freshness of the spirit that the Stones brought to the table. In these moments, captured in 1969, you can see the point where the Stones make the step from rock stars to phenomena, and you see where the wall between artist and audience spawns from.
"Gimme Shelter" follows the Stones from touring and recording to their free concert at Altamont Speedway. The film breaks with documentary tradition and gives us a skewed timeline, interspersing concert footage and recording sessions with newscasts about the aftermath of Altamont, the Stones in the screening room watching footage of Altamont, and scenes of negotiating the final details before Altamont goes down. The Altamont concert itself is a marvel to behold, to witness what was captured by the gang of camera operators wandering through the crowd (including George Lucas). From drug dealers to painted hippies, Hells Angels to fathers and sons, from whimsy to terror.Read more ›
It documents the Rolling Stones during their landmark '69 tour, and in particular, the documentary maker's dream (and everyone else's nightmare) Altamont concert. At the time, the Stones truly were "the greatest Rock and Roll band in the world", perhaps the greatest of all time. Jagger's performance and charisma are at their peak, no trace of the almost self-parody he would later embrace. Keith Richards' playing is rough, raunchy and powerful, while the unheralded Mick Taylor's exquisite blues guitar leads contrast by their beauty.
The performances alone (including Tina Turner doing "I've Been Loving You Too Long") would be enough to make this a must have film, but Altamont is what makes it a truly great film. When we get to the Altamont concert, it gradually becomes more and more terrifying, reminiscent of the slow build of "The Shining". At first, Jagger thinks he can control the situation with peace and love rhetoric, "Brothers and sisters. If we are all one then let's show it!" At the end, the once confident rock star is reduced to a scared little boy pleading, "I pray that it's alright. I pray that it's alright," right before a man is stabbed to death a few feet away from him.
Highlights (besides the Stones and Tina Turner performances): Jagger watching a tape of himself (obviously stoned) giving glib and charming answers to reporters, then turning away from the tape, and almost blushing, saying, "Rubbish.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of my favorite movies of all-time. Criterion's reputation remains intact.Published 2 months ago by Jim Williamson
I have watched this movie about 25 times over the years. A BAD trip for all ! Also the " Angel " that stabbed M. H. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James A. Shillingford
Best rock documentary ever, probably watched it 10 times already since the 1970's. This Criterion edition gave so much more I haven't seen, 3 extra songs, backstage footage, more... Read morePublished 10 months ago by NewKillerStar 3000
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