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Gimme Shelter
USA 1970
Directed by David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Running time 91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Four months after Woodstock, The Rolling Stones, then “the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world” gave a free concert at Altamont Raceway to wind up their 1969 American tour. It turned into the symbolic death-knell for the love generation after a black man was stabbed to death by the Hell’s Angels, who had been ill-advisedly hired as stage security.

The Maysles’ classic documentary paints a damning picture of The Stones, and Jagger in particular, as rock gods both naively and fecklessly indifferent to the implications of the idolatrous worshipping of their fans and of their aggressively and sexually-provocative songs such as Street Fightin’ Man and Sympathy With The Devil as being essentially in thanatic opposition to the erotic ideals of the sun-worshipping hippies. Whilst sociologically the matter was, of course, more complex Gimme Shelter is a fascinating (and for anyone who lived through the times, rather depressing) document of a fascinating time.




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