Gimme Shelter Screen 14 articles

Gimme Shelter

1970

Gimme Shelter Poster
  • The film is a strong example of the cinema verite style at work, yet few films of the school show up the crisis of its “noninvolvement” policy more tellingly. There is a horrible sense of helplessness as the camera looks on while the Hell's Angels stab an unruly fan to death, and the implications of hippie fascism contained in that image are not meaningfully developed in light of the film's own excessive idolization of Jagger and company. The camera that looks up too easily looks down.

  • It's been widely applauded as a more truthful look at the counterculture than Woodstock offered earlier that year, but Woodstock is a great film and Gimme Shelter, despite some fine Stones footage, is crippled by its rhetorical pretensions.

  • Rather than a probing social document fashioned from what was meant to be a concert film, it's an ordinary concert film savvy enough to capitalize (albeit not very well) on some unruly shit that happened to go down; that the filmmakers withhold the stabbing until the last few minutes and then promptly wrap things up is just inconceivable to me... Fortunately, the concert footage itself is outstanding, though the Stones get their thunder roundly stolen by Ike and Tina at Madison Square Garden.

  • The Altamont movie, and something of a bummer: if you love the Stones, you're likely to be irritated by the fact that the camera stays on Mick Jagger for virtually every frame; if you're keen to understand why the notorious murder took place and what responsibility the musicians should admit to, you're left with a vacuous look of shock and confusion on the singer's face; and if you get off on violence accompanied by music played loud and raw, you'll love it.

  • It's knowing about the killing, and waiting for it to happen on the screen that gives the film its energy and thrust. And when the murder scene comes, there isn't so much the rush of shock as the gratification of curiosity.

  • The best documentary moments are those that ambush the intention of the maker, creating a wholly different work in the process... What begins as a concert film much like D.A. Pennebaker’s MONTEREY POP (which Albert Maysles worked on) from 1967 becomes a document of the last days of hippydom.

  • Gimme Shelter is a masterpiece of restraint and understatement. It begins with a single moment of innocence—the Madison Square Garden performance. What we see on Jagger’s face is not merely insolence but joy—the joy that extraordinary performers experience when they surprise themselves in public.

  • A couple of months ago, I saw it for the first time, probably, since 1972. Given my history with the film, I suppose I expected it to seem somehow different or lesser, a relic of faded enthusiasms. But it didn’t. It seemed exactly as it did back then, and for ninety-one minutes I found myself obsessed all over again.

  • MONTEREY POP and GIMME SHELTER are not only two of the greatest concert documentaries ever made, but also valuable cultural artifacts that encapsulate the tumultuous spirit of the 1960s.

  • Watching Jagger watch that moment on the monitor, the moment that he lived through, the violence of that day, pressing in on the stage from all sides, is one of the most unique moments in the history of celebrity. There really is nothing else quite like it.

  • Though [Gimme Shelter is] replete with some exhilarating concert footage—notably, of the Stones performing on the concert tour that led up to the Altamont disaster—its central subject is how the Altamont concert came into being. “Gimme Shelter” is a film about a concert that is only incidentally a concert film. Yet the Maysleses’ vision of the unfolding events is distinctive—and, for that matter, historic—by virtue of their distinctive directorial procedure.

  • In one of the film’s first shots, Mick Jagger prances around the stage wearing a superhero cape. [The camera] zooms in on the singer until it has him pinned in a close-up. As he struts, the camera stays tight, never letting him go. The scene changes. We’re suddenly looking at the same shot on a monitor in an editing suite, as is Jagger. Zwerin and the Maysles have the Stones under their thumb, forcing them to confront their posturing (would there be an Act of Killing without Gimme Shelter?).

  • Loose and purposefully manipulative with chronology, and including the onscreen intrusion of the filmmakers, the film pushed the limits of what a “rock doc” could be, and still shocks, both with its studio footage of the band laying down classic tracks, and the dark bleakness and moral fog of Altamont.

  • "Why are we fighting?" Mick Jagger says into the mic. Only it's not a peace-love-freedom statement about Vietnam or civil rights, but a frantic plea for his own crowd to keep their shit together. This is an astounding documentary, the idealism of the 60s committing suicide on film—it's sobering and mournful, clear-eyed toward both rebels and squares, and proof that, if nothing else, the music will endure.

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