Gimme Shelter

The Maysles Brothers and Charlotte ZwerinUSA91 minutes1970PGColourEnglish

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One of the greatest rock docs of all time, this unforgettable record of the Rolling Stones' notorious free concert at San Francisco's Altamont Speedway has also become enshrined as the symbolic "end of the Woodstock Generation."

One of the greatest rock docs of all time, this unforgettable record of the Rolling Stones' notorious free concert at San Francisco's Altamont Speedway — which climaxed with the murder of a young black man, Meredith Hunter, by the Hell's Angels who had been hired as security for the event — has also become enshrined as a document of the symbolic "end of the Woodstock Generation," the '60s dream of love and peace replaced by fear and violence. As Jonathan Rosenbaum has pointed out, however, such grand pop-sociological readings gloss over the morally complex culpability of both the band (whose management had hired the Angels as cut-rate muscle) and the filmmakers themselves, as the concert had been staged for the express purpose of making the documentary. While questions demand to be asked, what is unquestionable here is the magnificence of the music — with the turn-of-the-'60s Stones at the height of their powers — and the sickly fascination as we witness the Angels' escalating hostility towards the hippie-fied crowd, culminating in Hunter's horrifying, caught-on-camera murder.

DocumentaryViolenceMusic