A dark counterpoint to the lovefest of the film Woodstock, this documentary about the Rolling Stones' 1969 American concert tour centers on the hallucinatory nightmare of the Altamont Music Festival. The free rock concert attracted 300,000 fans. The Stones hired members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang to conduct security, but the gang ended up implicated in a fan riot which left one person dead. Cinematographer Haskell Wexler's tremendous camera work captures the connections between The Stones' hypnotic and provocative music and the drug-addled frenzy of the crowd. Directors David Maysles and Al Maysles take a hands-off approach, and the result is a disturbing look at the hellish side of the 1960s rock & roll counterculture. Gimme Shelter is one of the most gripping concert films ever made, and one of the very few to examine the dangerous interplay between performers and live audiences.
by Michael Betzold review