Gimme Shelter

“It’s not an exaggeration to say Albert and David Maysles‘ famous documentary Gimme Shelter about the Rolling Stone‘s ill-fated free concert at the Altamont Speedway, is the best rock film ever made. It is. And you don’t have to like the Stones — or enjoy rock music — to appreciate why the picture holds such a privileged place in film history and American culture. A cult classic, Gimme Shelter is more than a concert film. It’s a multi-layered palimpsest upon which social, artistic, historical and cultural ideas are scribed.

The film juxtaposes footage of Mick Jagger expressing hopes for the concert (‘It will set an example to the rest of America, as to how one can behave in nice gatherings’) with footage of pre-performance setup that looks like a recipe for disaster.

The film captures the irrational social phenomenon of American stardom, which inevitably leads people to behave unreasonably, and, in large numbers, feel perfectly justified in losing self-control. Through Jagger’s naïve idealism, famous swagger and the Stones’ blithe worldview, “Gimme Shelter” evokes the counter-cultural politics, sexual permissiveness and laissez faire philosophy of the sixties.” - IndieWire


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