When three hundred thousand members of the Love Generation collided with a few dozen Hells Angels at San Francisco's Altamont Speedway, the bloody slash that transformed a decade's dreams into disillusionment was immortalized on this film.
A documentary on the Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour and the tragic events that concluded it. We see footage of their concerts and of them making the Sticky Fingers album in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. However, the main focus of the film is on one concert - Altamont Speedway, outside San Francisco, 6 December 1969. A free concert, it is the Stones' idea and it was meant to be the Woodstock of the West (Woodstock having occurred four months earlier). Other bands performing included Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Santana. However, it is far from being the peace and love of Woodstock. Part of the problem is that the Stones hired the Hells Angels as security. The other problem was that a large portion of the crowd were high on drugs. Friction ensues. During the Stones' set, Meredith Hunter, high on methamphetamine and armed with a gun, makes a lunge for the stage and is stabbed to death by the Hells Angels. The peace and ...Written by
KSAN Radio here. The violence at Altamont was completely unexpected. The Rolling Stones had performed for overflow audiences, without incident, in major cities across the United States.
[cut to Madison Square Garden - in concert]
I can't get no satisfaction...
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Re-released in 1992 with some uncensored dialog and some more brief nudity; this version is rated R. See more »
Interesting but badly in need of insight and discussion from those involved
In 1969 the Rolling Stones were on their tour of America and planned to finish it with a surprise appearance at a free concert in Golden Gate park San Francisco. However when this fact came out at a Stone's press conference the numbers predicted to attend swelled and the gig had to be moved. After several changes and at the last minute, the Altamont Raceway was selected as the venue. The organisers asked for a chapter of the Hells Angels to be in charge of security. During the concert many scuffles broke out and one young man was stabbed to death. With the Stones themselves, the Maysles brothers look back over the concert in regards the performances and the wider impact the event had.
Although not quite as good as I had hoped it would be, this film was still pretty interesting as it captures "the end of the sixties" in the Altamont concert murder and the performances of the Stones in their prime. Although it was the former I had come for, the music was pretty good and the sound quality was surprisingly good. The one big complaint I have about the footage from all the Stone's performances is that I had to assume that the rest of them were on stage with Jagger because the camera stays tight on him and never leaves him for long. It is a bit annoying but I suppose it doesn't affect the music.
The most gripping part of the film though is the actual events around the Altamont concert itself. The build up is interesting because you can see the seeds of chaos being planted in the planning stage with the "secret" coming out being followed by the last minute planning and general disorganisation. This is followed by the concert itself which gradually becomes more and more chaotic. It is gripping to watch the fights break out and see things spiralling out of control it is impressive how well the footage came out. Having seen Salesman, I knew the Maysles' tended to sit back and just film their subjects but this only works if you can get them to speak or emote. Sadly here Mick and Keith simply watch the concert footage and, aside from looking a bit shocked and asking a few questions they don't say anything. Certainly there is nothing approaching insight or discussion from anyone. Although it is possible to draw your own conclusions from the footage to a degree, it cries out for discussion and reflection which is not forthcoming.
Without this it is nowhere near as interesting or valuable as it should have been. The performances make it worth seeing and watch the farcical organisation translation into a violent and chaotic concert is an interesting experience. Although their fly-on-the-wall technique is respected amongst filmmakers, I did find myself wishing that someone other than the Maysles' had made this film.
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