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The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter - Criterion Collection
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter - Criterion Collection
Actors: The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (II), Mick Taylor, Ike Turner
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
R     2000     1hr 31min

Called "the greatest rock film ever made," this landmark documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their notorious 1969 U.S. tour. When 300,000 members of the Love Generation collided with a few dozen Hell's Angels at San ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (II), Mick Taylor, Ike Turner
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Concerts, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Turner, Tina, Classic Rock, DTS, Educational, Documentary, Documentary
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/14/2000
Original Release Date: 12/06/1970
Theatrical Release Date: 12/06/1970
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 29
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Steven H. (sehamilton) from BIRMINGHAM, AL
Reviewed on 11/17/2009...
No doubt this film is an important historical document. Watching the confident Jagger of the Madison Square Garden shows devolve into the paralyzed bystander of the Altamont concert is tragic. The film is all the more harrowing and disturbing because the viewer knows what is coming. As naive as the Stones may have been for putting on the ill-planned Altamont concert, they can hardly be blamed for the actions of the Hell's Angels. Despite the description of film posted on this site, it is an historical fact the Stones did not hire the Angels to provide security. Watching Jagger realize the crowd and violence are beyond his control is a frightening moment. From the ebullient strutting joyousness of the earlier shows, it is sad to watch him frozen as he stands at the microphone barely singing the words to Under My Thumb. Perhaps he realizes the irony of what he's singing, for he was not in control of anything that happened that night. As a piece of history, the film is important, but if you're looking for a fun-filled Stones concert, check out the excellent Shine A Light or DVD-R copies of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, a record of their '72 US tour.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Unquestionably one of the truly great rock documentaries
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many people identify this as the greatest rock documentary ever made. I'm not sure it quite deserves that label (my vote would go for the older T.A.M.I. film, which has not yet been made available on DVD), but it is certainly the most interesting and frightening. Clearly it started off as a documentary of the Stones 1969 tour of the United States (which I believe was their first U.S. tour following the death of Brian Jones and his being replaced by Mick Taylor), but everything changed once Altamount happened. The death of Meredith Hunter at the hands of a member of the Hell's Angels, who had been employed to maintain security at the free concert the Stones gave in San Francisco, takes over the film, changing it from a documentary about the Stones on tour to a murder that took place at a Stones concert.

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.

The violence completely obscures the fact that the Stones were at the time precisely what the announcer at the beginning of the film announces: the world's greatest rock and roll band. The performances, especially the earlier ones in the film, but also in the raw tape of songs like "Brown Sugar," are stunningly good, and it is especially apparent the new great guitar edge that Mick Taylor has brought to the band (Jones brought an across the board brilliance, and could add everything from slide guitar to upright piano to sitar to the mix, but was probably not quite Taylor's equal as a guitarist, and Taylor also brought a new reliability that contrasted with Jones's increasingly erratic behavior in his last year with the band). On the other hand, in the film the band largely disappears at time. Apart from Mick Jagger, the Stones are not always a palpable presence in their own film.

Historicism could be defined with focusing on the meaning of history rather than the objective telling of the events of history, or recounting the events for the sake of getting to their supposed underlying meaning. Sometimes it even involves projecting onto events meaning they would not otherwise have. Altamount is easily one of the most historicized moments in the history of both the sixties and rock and roll. Altamount is rarely treated as an isolated tragedy, but is more frequently regarded as a turning point in history, as if it were when the sixties came crashing to an end (something that I feel can more rightfully be ascribed to Kent State). I don't personally understand this need to project some story of apocalyptic closure to the decade. I'll merely state that I don't think that we should see anything more in Altamount than a tragedy that ought otherwise to have been prevented. It should it not be baptized as, nor was it, a defining moment in history.

One frustration I had with the film is that far too often the camera isn't focused on what was happening. There is a tendency for the film to merely drift at times. For instance, while the Flying Burrito Brothers, there are only a couple of incredibly brief shots of Gram Parsons's back. We can hear him singing the song, but we never see him actually singing it. Earlier, when performing the great Robert Johnson song "Love in Vain" (featuring some of the most powerfully poetic images ever written by an illiterate individual), the camera completely abandons a real-time observation of the performance, and lapses into a near fantasy-like viewing of Mick Jagger swirling about the stage in slow motion.

Anyone who loves this film, or merely enjoys it, should definitely read the Stanley Booth book THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE ROLLING STONES, which covers the precise same events as the film, but in much greater detail and with more insight both into the events surrounding Altamount and into the members of the band. It is one of the great classics of rock journalism."
Not just the best Rock and Roll documentary ever made...
Ilya Chasm | USA | 09/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie has been almost universally acclaimed as the best Rock and Roll documentary ever, but that is damning with faint praise. This is a great movie, period.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." Mick and Keith grooving to a different version of Brown Sugar that has a country lead guitar part, 2 years before the song was released. During the Altamont concert, a Hell's Angel on the stage staring at Jagger for a long time with a look of intense disgust like, "Look at this little faggot!" The disillusioned masses leaving the next morning while the rawest, nastiest version of "Gimme Shelter" you've ever heard plays on the soundtrack.When you watch the Altamont part of this movie, your shoulders and body will scrunch up as though you were at a truly scary horror movie. It is that visceral. It is emotionally draining, yet compelling, and the music is fantastic. I have it on VHS and I will get the DVD as soon as it comes out. You should own this movie."
Who's Fighting and What For?
Monkey Knuckle Asteroid | 12/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Gimme Shelter" is a lot of things. It's one of the greatest rock and roll films ever made. It's one of the greatest documentaries ever made. It's one of the best glimpses of a moment in time ever recorded, and it's a lasting crystallization of the point in time when the ideals and dreams of the 60's died and the hedonism and self-preservation of the 70's kicked in.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. "Gimme Shelter" follows the show from it's chaotic first moments of parking wherever, ingesting whatever and acting however, to scenes of fast and random violence springing up around the stage as well as on stage. All of which culminates in the murder of a man right in front of the stage. All captured on beautiful, grainy 16mm with no tricks and no cheats. The DVD is packed with great supplementary materials. A commentary from David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, deleted scenes (including a great backstage scene of Ike, Tina and Mick hanging out), the full excerpts of the KSAN radio broadcast which is used occasionally in the film, trailers, photos and a small feature on the restoration of the print. If you've seen "Gimme Shelter" before, you've noticed that the sound and image lack a lot. Criterion has completely restored the visuals to crystal clarity and given the audio tracks a much-needed shot in the arm. This film has never looked so good and never sounded so good. The Stones have been the focus of several movies and a gang of media coverage, attempting to look beyond the gamefaces and see the real Stones. Very few have succeeded. "Gimme Shelter" is filled with moments where the Stones forget to pose, forget to put up a pretense and respond with real shock, real anger and real regret. This is the anti-"Woodstock." Besides all that, you'll rarely see the Stones in such top form and sounding and looking so good. If the shots of the band in action don't get you, then the shots of the crowd alone are worth the price of admission. Rock films are seemingly a dime a dozen, and no one tends to care enough to make them real FILMS. "Gimme Shelter" is the antidote to the callous rock film tossaway, a film with as much brains as attitude, a film with a message as well as a soundtrack, and most of all, a film so much greater and so much deeper than the surface could ever lead you to believe."