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
"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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