Gimme Shelter


The Rolling Stones helped usher in the end of the Peace and Love era with their notoriously ill-fated 1969 U.S. concert tour, a rock and roll inferno which ended in shocking violence and mayhem, and it was all caught on film by the legendary Maysles Brothers in a rock doc unlike any other. Gimme Shelter, often hailed as one the best and most important rock films ever made, was a product of accident. After filming the Rolling Stones’ 1969 Madison Square Garden concert, Albert and David Maysles secured permission to accompany the group on the rest of their tour. It started out as a light-hearted portrait of one of the world’s greatest rock groups but turned into a searing commentary on the end of the Woodstock Generation at the Stones’ final appearance, a tumultuous show at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California. With the rowdy crowd spiraling increasingly out of control, a dark atmosphere of fear and unease took over (a mood fanned by the incendiary performance of The Stones, whose “Sympathy for the Devil” had never sounded quite as chillingly prophetic) and an audience member was tragically murdered by a Hells Angel hired to work security, with the event captured on camera. Filming in the “Direct Cinema” style they had helped pioneer with films like Salesman (1968), the Maysles offered no commentary or in-depth investigation. They simply recorded events as they happened, objectively capturing the nightmarish spectacle that transformed a decade’s dreams into disillusionment, as well as the stunning musical performances by the Stones (with Mick Jagger at the absolute height of his slinky Rock and Roll Lucifer powers), Jefferson Airplane, Ike and Tina Turner and The Flying Burrito Brothers, in the process creating a riveting portrait of events that shook the world. (Dir. by Albert Maysles/David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin, 1970, USA, 90 mins., Rated R) Digital