Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only ... See full summary »
In December of 1969, four months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane gave a free concert in Northern California, east of Oakland at Altamont Speedway. About 300,000 people came, and the organizers put Hell's Angels in charge of security around the stage. Armed with pool cues and knifes, Angels spent the concert beating up spectators, killing at least one. The film intercuts performances, violence, Grace Slick and Mick Jagger's attempts to cool things down, close-ups of young listeners (dancing, drugged, or suffering Angel shock), and a look at the Stones later as they watch concert footage and reflect on what happened. Written by
After viewing footage of the stabbing of Meredith Hunter police identified Alan Passaro, a local Hell's Angel, as the man who did the stabbing, arrested him and charged him with murder. At his trial, however, closer examination of the footage showed that Hunter had pulled a gun before Passaro pulled his knife. Passaro was acquitted on grounds of self-defense. See more »
"Gimme Shelter" is definitely a well-made documentary, although not really better made than many other similar documentaries. The strength is what exactly this one is showing, namely the death of 60's innocence at a sleazy unorganized concert packed with drugged-out hippies watching the world's greatest rock and roll band. With that at hand, it'd be really hard to make a bad film.
Even though gigantic festivals like Altamont were new at the time, it is hard to imagine just how clueless people were in organizing the event. Even with the parking, when they are talking about how they have room for only a (relatively) small number of cars when they need room for many times more, the answer simply is a suggestion to ask the landowner next door to use his land to park cars and hope for the best, and that's that.
There probably is no better film where you can get that certain "feel" for the late 60's hippie-rock crowd and scene. It's really sad in a way because unfortunately, all the hippies themselves come across as clueless themselves, as if The Stones have all the answer's to their problems.
The whole mix was amazingly combustive, with The Stones, 300,000 drugged-out hippies, and plenty of showerless Hells Angels just looking for an excuse to kick someone's ass. It's hard to imagine anyone giving the security responsibilities to such a mammoth event to a group of guys that appear as if they'd have a difficult time simply *spelling* the actual word "security." But it all does make for an amazing portrait of a truly incredible event. Truth is, Altamont never actually changed anything much; instead, it was a wakeup call for those who still for whatever reason, refused to acknowledge that the times have already been changing indeed.
The footage at Madison Square Garden is actually the best concert footage in the film, interesting seeing how the house lights were on all the time and how the band played on stage without any props or effects (KISS was still 5 years away).
Many may disagree with this, but on the DVD, the newly remixed music in the film actually sounds too clean, especially during the concert sequences. The audio sometimes sounds so good, that it makes the film, itself gritty and hardcore, look "fake" and "dubbed" all too many times.
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