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    DVD Video - Reviews [Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter]


    Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter (Special Edition)

    Release Date:

    Studio: Criterion/Voyager
    Year: 1970
    Run Time: 91 minutes
    Rating: Not Rated
    Starring: Ike Turner, Tina Turner, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones, Ron Wood, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Jefferson Airplane
    Directed by: David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
      Movie Summary: [Music]

        Called "the greatest rock film ever made," this landmark documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their notorious 1969 U.S. tour and features definitive live performances of "Satisfaction," "Jumping Jack Flash," "Honky Tonk Woman," and eight other Stone Classics. For security, members of The Hell's Angels were hired to work crowd control. When it was all over, four babies were born; and when 300,000 members of the Love Generation collided with a few dozen Hells Angels, four people died at San Francisco's Altamont Speedway. Direct cinema pioneers David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin immortalized on film the bloody slash that transformed a decade's dreams into disillusionment. The Criterion Collection and Home Vision Cinema are proud to present the 30th Anniversary restored version of "Gimme Shelter."

    DVD Details
    • Full Frame, Color, 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 DTS, Stereo, Subtitles: English
    • Subtitled for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Production Stills, Trailer, Audio Commentary, Deleted Footage, FilmographyExcerpts From KSAN Radio's four-hour post-Altamont Broadcast; "Perspectives on 'Gimme Shelter'" Booklet: A collection of essays, analyses, memoirs, and notes on the film, Altamont, the Stones' 1969 tour, and the cultural climate of the 60s.
    See Full Disc Details...

    Reviewer: Rob Smentek


            B ill Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter isn’t so much a rock and roll film, as much as an example of what happens when you let the lunatics run the asylum. Essentially, the film is a week in the life of the Stones, beginning with a triumphant series of concerts at Madison Square Garden and ending with a free concert held at San Francisco’s Altamont Speedway…a concert mired in drugs, violence, and ultimately, tragedy. Gimme Shelter is given the Criterion treatment on its initial DVD release. It’s a fully loaded disc with an excellent transfer and great extras…a must have for Rolling Stones fans.

    The movie both celebrates the Stones as a phenomenal rock band, but also shows the dark side of rock and roll. It examines mob mentality, as well as the responsibilities of celebrity. While Gimme Shelter has a loose narrative structure, presenting the events of the week in a non-chronological order. However, it is hardly scattershot. The film builds up to the events at Altamont, which have become rock and roll lore. The opening sequence at Madison Square Garden has the Rolling Stones in all their glory, living up to their reputation as the “world’s greatest rock and roll band.” Mick proves that his is the ultimate rock front man, singing like a man possessed. Keith Richards (incorrectly billed as Richard in the opening credits), is the perfect sideman, giving off a vibe of pure malevolence that reminds us why rock and roll scared parents. Looking like an extra from Night of the Living Dead, Keith proves that you don’t have to play perfect notes to be a great rock musician. It’s about energy and showmanship, which is what the Madison Square Garden scenes have in spades.

    Another highlight of Gimme Shelter, especially for die-hard Stones fans, is footage of the band recording in a tiny Alabama studio. The songs they mix, “Love in Vain” and “Wild Horses” are classics, of course, and it is awesome to witness these songs as works in progress. It is truly amazing that these red-eyed musicians could even function with the alcohol intake that is shown in the film (VO is swigged out of the bottle constantly).

    However, it is Gimme Shelter’s closing scenes of the Altamont Festival that has earned the film a place in history. After several skirmishes between the crowd and the Hell’s Angels who worked event security, the Stones launch into a slow version of “Under My Thumb,” attempting to bring things down. During this song, yet another fight breaks out, this time ending in death. A young fan, Meredith Hunter, is stabbed to death on-camera, forever being known among rock trivia experts as the guy killed at Altamont. The scene is harrowing, to say the least. Drummer Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger are shown watching the footage in an editing room with expressions of horror and disbelief.

    Gimme Shelter is presented on DVD in a 1.35:1 widescreen ratio, and the transfer is beautiful. Previous releases of the film have often been grainy, and borderline bootleg. The original filmmakers have restored the film using the camera original. One of the disc’s extras is a demonstration of the film’s restoration process. The sound, likewise, is awesome…as a rock movie should be. Gimme Shelter has both Dolby Digital and DTS sound.

    The extras provided on Gimme Shelter are worthy of the Criterion name. Included are two performances from the New York concert (“Little Queenie” and “Carol”), in-studio outtakes, as well as a backstage scene with Ike and Tina Turner from the Altamont show. The audio commentary by directors Maysles and Zwerin and their collaborator Stanley Goldstein, offers some great insight into the events surrounding the Altamont disaster. Perhaps the most interesting inclusion is a very long K-SAN radio broadcast that originally aired after the Altamont concert. The radio show features phone calls from concert-goers, as well as the Hell’s Angels, who are blamed for the concert’s chaos. Also accompanying the disc is a great 44-page booklet with a number of essays about the film. A great read!

    While rock historians and critics remember Gimme Shelter for its scenes of violence, another bit of trivia surrounds this film. Working as assistant cameraman is none other than George Lucas.

    If Woodstock represents the pinnacle of the 1960’s counter-culture, then the Altamont concert, held just four months later, signified the end of the hippie movement. Gimme Shelter is an important document of a lost era, and shows a great rock band in their prime.


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