Continuing Education: GIMME SHELTER

Director Albert and David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Year 1970
Starring The Rolling Stones
Rating R
Run Time 91min
Age Policy

18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.

“There were four births, four deaths, and an awful lot of scuffles reported.”

In San Francisco of 1969 the Rolling Stones were set to give a free concert on the Altamont Speedway. Hordes gathered and many were high and/or naked before the first band even got onstage. The Hell’s Angels were hired as bouncers, and tensions between them and the crowd flared up until one spectator was murdered. The events alone make for a fascinating story, but in the hands of the masterful Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin the resulting film is much more. Capturing the days leading up to the concert, we see Mick Jagger in top form at a Madison Square Garden, a great contrast to his sputtering antics on the Altamont stage as he reacts to the audience chaos. The directors intercut scenes of the Stones watching footage on a flatbed editor (with Mick Jagger referring to his own yammering at a press conference as “rubbish”), an innovative technique that further brings the band down to earth because we know they’re looking for the answers to where it went wrong as much as we are. 

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