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Gimme Shelter (1970)
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by iF Magazine

"A classic documentary. A stunning DVD."
5 stars

GIMME SHELTER is a classic documentary that charts the exultation and dismay of the last 10 days of The Rolling Stones North American concert. It starts in New Yorkís Madison Square Garden where everything was great and ends in Altamont Speedway just outside of Oakland where everything was amiss.

Put together by David and Albert Maysles the documentary was meant to be nothing more than a music tour documentary that would end with a free concert to rival Woodstock. But instead, it became an inside look at the Rolling Stones, the shoddy handling of a concert and, in many ways, a damning comment on the '60s. For some it would be an indictment against the tune in, turn on, drop out, free love generation.

Anyway you look at it the 1969 Altamont concert was sort of a downward spiraling swan song. Even though it had many of the same elements as Woodstock it was sort of its evil twin since what people remember about it wasnít the performances but the violence and the four deaths.

The biggest question many went on to ask was why did the organizers use the Hellís Angels as security guards rather than regular police. One of the most revealing aspects of GIMME SHELTER is when the Maysles go into the office of the Mayor of San Francisco and find a bunch of city people and lawyers who are perplexed about the concert and who really donít want a big mess but are willing to locate it way outside of the city.

Part of the problem was the lack of organization for the 300,000 that showed up completely stoned, unpleasant and seemingly ready to be violent. As far as the regular concert-goer of the '60s is concerned this is the normal ingredient for success but the Maysles show the crowd scenes as very rough and tumble with a foreboding of bad things in the air. No doubt, this is an editing choice because while editing they already knew the night would end badly.

GIMME SHELTER has an interesting narrative structure. Unlike many documentaries that use talking heads to recount the events, GIMME SHELTER uses a series of sequences interspersed within the documentary that show the Rolling Stones watching the footage of the concert. So it is a film within a film and we get to see (mainly) Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts react to the performances they gave in Madison Square Garden and then react to the one in Altamont. It has a chilling effect, especially when the violence begins.

This DVD looks great because the print is from the original camera negative and sounds better than ever in Dolby 5.1 on one track and DTS on another. But best of all the history of the concert comes to life with a whole slew of supplements.

The two best supplements are a running audio commentary by Albert Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin and Stanley Goldstein, and over an hour of radio broadcasts from KSAN the day after the event that included interviews with the Hellís Angels, a rock critic and concert-goers.

There is also 20 minutes of footage not used in the film, which includes the Rolling Stones mixing the sound from their Madison Square Garden concert, a couple of songs on stage and one sequence with Jagger and Tina and Ike Turner backstage talking and singing together.

There is also close to 100 photos, a remarkable restoration demonstration and a 40-page booklet with essays about the concert and the film. GIMME SHELTER, on DVD, is worth a look or two or three.-- Matt Langdon

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2171&reviewer=119
originally posted: 02/24/01 01:18:57
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User Comments

12/31/09 Jeff Wilder Legitimately frightening depiction of the violent end of an era 5 stars
12/03/09 SirGent Easily one of the scariest films ever made! Welcome to the dark side of the 60's. 5 stars! 5 stars
3/25/07 action movie fan stunning rock documentary-great Stones performances-murder scene intense-a classic 5 stars
1/09/07 David Pollastrini very well done 5 stars
9/01/02 R.W. Welch Often interesting documentary that encapsulates the unraveling of the hippie movement. 4 stars
3/01/01 Klute A great flick. 5 stars
3/01/01 Stones good music, but gay movie gfj 1 stars
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  06-Dec-1970 (R)
  DVD: 14-Nov-2000

  13-Dec-1970 (15)

  06-Dec-1970 (M)

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