Entertainment Weekly - 09/01/2000
"...Mesmerizing....The only rock-and-roll film that exerts the saturnine intensity of a thriller..." -- Rating: A
USA Today - 07/10/1992
"...Framed with photographic precision in an all-out combat zone, this is a landmark documentary..." -- 4 out of 4 stars
Sight and Sound - 03/01/2001
"...A genuinely scary affair, a slow-motion depiction of a cultural car crash, which turned the dewy-eyed optimism of Woodstock on its head..."
Rolling Stone - 11/27/2003
"...A gripping chronicle of the Stones at their height..."
Total Film - 10/01/2009 5 stars out of 5 -- "In its unwilted capacity to shock and palpable sense of a culture shifting, SHELTER gives potent testimony to tragedy."
This documentary of the Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour has become a legendary, harrowing symbol of the tragic demise of the "Peace and Love" era. After a successful tour across the United States, the Rolling Stones gave a free December concert at Altamont Speedway in California with the Grateful Dead (not seen performing), Ike and Tina Turner, Jefferson Airplane, and the Flying Burrito Brothers (all seen performing one song each). The poorly planned show was fraught with problems from its inception. The band unwisely selected the Hells Angels motorcycle club to provide security, and after the pre-existing chaos was fueled by very visible alcohol and drug abuse, the bikers resorted to violence to keep the stoned, restless, and often naked crowd in line. The result: dozens of injuries and the on-screen stabbing of a young African-American man (during "Sympathy for the Devil," no less) by one of the concert's "staff security."
In a manipulative but effective move, the Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin filmed Mick Jagger in the editing room witnessing the on-camera murder for the first time. But aside from that unexpected drama, the film also works as a rock-and-roll document, capturing the band at their most relaxed, intoxicating, and electrifying.
The Maysles brothers unwittingly captured the end of the 1960s as they documented the Rolling Stones' tragic 1970 free concert at Altamont, California. The backstage antics and the logistics that go into planning an event that was to be attended by 300,000 people pales as the Hells Angels fatally stab an audience member to death while Jagger helplessly performs "Sympathy for the Devil." Terrifying and electrifying filmmaking.
Concert Footage |
Essential Cinema |
Live Performances |
Music (General) |
Pop / Rock |
Rock And Roll |
Theatrical release: December 6, 1970
Restored for a theatrical re-release in August 2000 as GIMME SHELTER: 30TH ANNIVERSARY.
George Lucas was a cameraman on the film, but his footage was not used in the final print. (Removed George Lucas as Cinematographer as per Kritsten at Maysle Films, Nov. 22, 2002)
A total of four people died at the Altamont concert.
New Yorker critic Pauline Kael wrote a scathing review of the film upon its release, accusing the filmmakers of setting the stage for the violence that transpired.
The film includes footage of the band in a southern recording studio listening to tracks that would appear on their STICKY FINGERS record.