Friday, October 1, 2010

Gimme Shelter (1970)


  1. Gimme Shelter was not what I expected to be. I knew what the documentary was based on, but I never firmly understood why. The film showed two sides to the Stones: the vivacious live rock ‘n’ roll band, and the painfully awful leadership side. Although the film flipped from the Stones to the flop of the Altamont concert, I was still satisfied with the overall delivery of the film.
    When I was watching Gimme Shelter, so were the Stones. This feeling kept me interested, like I was learning new things and watching new scenes with Mick Jagger himself. I don’t really like Mick Jagger that much, but this film sure showed how he can handle himself onstage. In such an overwhelming climax (at the very end of the film), it must have been tough for Jagger to watch himself tell the audience to settle down and to “chill”. I felt whatever he felt, and saw what he could see. Unfortunately, I wish I knew how he felt about the Altamont incident rather than a few words and a still image of his face at the end.
    Gimme Shelter was all about the end of the Sixties. I found this to be rather depressing, as the whole decade did not necessarily go out with a “bang.” However, I felt the film was leaning toward introducing a new decade of music to come.
    My favorite scenes in the film would probably be the scenes when we were allowed into the Stones’ lives. We got to see the band relaxingly listen to an early cut of “Wild Horses”, one of my all time favorite songs. It also brought the viewer into the reality of the Stones. It felt like we were family, sitting there putting on a record and reviewing what they created.
    All in all, it might have been better if they separated the Rolling Stones footage from the Altamont show. If the Mayles brothers really wanted to create a documentary of the Stones, then leave it at that! It would have been easier to disassociate this insiders look into their lives from the tragedy that occurred at their show.
    On this note, I was confused at the overall stance. Were the directors trying to show the Stones, or Altamont? Either way, we got both, and the outcome could not have been worse.

  2. MHR
    What stood out in my mind the most about this documentary was how stupid and igorant Hell's Angels were. I really enjoyed the vintage footage of the Rollin Stones when Mick Jaggar was young. It was and indept look at the Stones when they were in their youth. The footage was vivid and very exciting. The Stones which I have always been a fan of after seeing this documentary I am more of a fan. This documentary was the best rock documentary I have seen since dark side of the moon.
    The thing that also stood out was was how stupid, igorant and glorified the Hell's Angels were. Today I would nickname them the Angel's That Smelled. Throughout my life I have heard many tales about Hells Angels a badass biker gang that were organized and cool. But after seeing this documentary I realized they were nothing but a bunch of party poopers. It seemed like if you wanted to have a good time, trip acid, see some titties. and see a badass rock show you could almost count on the Hell's Angels to be like a bunch of highschoolers coming to steal the keg and mess the party up. The images of these Hell's Angels a bunch of old dumbies that all they could afford in life was a motorcycle. The only thing they could do for money was to go to place to place to sale their bullshit drugs. While pushing a bunch of college kids high on acid around.
    To think that they actually ended up killing someone front row at a concert the same exact time they knew this documentary was being filmed. As if to prove their twisted backwards mentality. They actually thought they were cool. The whole time the camaras kept focusing on these guys spinning their heads around looking all mean when they should have been focusing on the rock band The Rollin Stones. They were there like they were some kind of celebritys. They were so proud when they came through the crowd on their motorcycles the crowd parted for them. Of couarse they parted for them they didn't want to get run over by a motorcycle. All they were was a bunch of drunkass hillybillies playing motorcycle club because they didn't have a woman at home to go to or any type of life other then just riding around doing nothing with their lives. A bunch of middleage losers.
    It just disappointments me that someone like Mick Jaggar would associate himself with such a low class of people. To think someone actually got away with murder right on tape. The irony in it to me explains how cowardly they were because of how they killed him,he was stabbed in the back they always had a weapon because they coudnt fight. All in all I enjoyed this documentary simply because it was a really good look at the Stones and Mick Jaggar how he could control a crowd.

  3. This film was the Rolling Stone’s Woodstock film, a documentary of a huge free concert with mostly a older group of people in contrast to the Stone’s fan base in years past consisting of mostly screaming love struck teenage girls. The songs were of high quality and of their own creation, along with bands like Grateful Dead this event would later be coined “Woodstock West.” This infamous concert shown in this documentary clearly shows that there were problems from the get go.

    To say the concert didn’t go smoothly would be a drastic understatement. It wasn’t clear if the problems started as a lack of effort or an overwhelming naiveté much like the Woodstock event on the east coast. It seems the attitude towards planning a well organized concert in the late 60s is a waste of time and that everything will just work out somehow. I don’t know if this was a 60s attitude or perhaps the ideal that trying the same type event as Woodstock and expecting different results was a rational concept to these people. Clearly in retrospect this west coast extravaganza was a failure on the part of everyone except the performing artist.

    First off the location couldn’t be settled until days before the event, sound familiar? Then there was the notion that parking was going to be an issue and that since they weren’t selling tickets they had no concise way of predicting the turnout, a literal echo of Woodstock. The greatest mistake was hiring bikers of the infamous Hells Angels to be the guards! Not sixty seconds off the chopper before Jagger gets sucker punched by some lunatic, they should of just called it a day right there, this was a clear signal of things to come, but in retrospect I suppose everything is always clearer.

    Some could suggest its not the Stone’s fault or the people in charge of planning but simply the time period, it was clearly a sad looking day with storm clouds in the horizon and I don’t know if it was an intended part of the film but there did seem to be a tension or unrest from the second they started filming the event itself. As well outside the event this period of time is considered to be the end of the famous 60’s with escalation in Vietnam and the black panther party many people didn’t have allot of optimism and the hippie era was clearly being consumed with a national since of doom and despair. Nevertheless the series of melee in the crowds at the Stone’s above average performance took hold of the film, fortunately the film much like the event was like Woodstock in the since that there was a ton of footage exclusively on the crowd reacting to the musicians and other stimuli occurring during the music.

    This was the best film we have seen in this class to date in my opinion with a plethora of comparisons to previous films we’ve seen. Also a well filmed event with plenty of action to keep you interested. The sound quality was great the actual video quality was good for its time. To be completely honest it was just fun watching this event crumble apart even before the Stones were able to be dropped into the middle of the mass of fans much like the cavalry style infantry drop occurring regularly at the same time of this event over in Vietnam as seen in movies such as Mel Gibson’s “We Were Soldiers.”

  4. If WOODSTOCK forwards to us a picture of the late 1960s that is happily anarchic, a joyful acid dream of community, GIMME SHELTER with its cinema verite style presents a devolution of that community, in a nightmarish and tragic vision.

    James Blue once said of Albert Maysles that his "avowed purpose is to catch a kind of ‘objective-subjective’ truth, his cinema is one in which ethics and aesthetics are interdependent, where beauty starts with honesty, where a cut or a change in camera angle can become not only a possible aesthetic error, but also a ‘sin’ against Truth. In things cinematic, Maysles is a religious zealot."

    One can clearly see Maysles’ obsession with the ethics of the image in GIMME SHELTER. The cinema verite footage of this documentary in the editing room becomes a magical story within a story.

    The first story is trying to capture the facial expressions of the Rolling Stones members viewing their concert tour in the editing room offering a few candid comments on what took place.

    The second story, much more important, was about what actual happened at that concert focusing on the chaos that ensued.
    The way this documentary connects the two stories is very tricky and unexpected and represents a descent into some kind of hell, that is not only inevitable, but fascinating to watch at the same time. You know things are going wind up badly virtually from the beginning of the film as Jagger and Watts are replayed radio bites detailing the aftermath of the Altamont concert —the death of a person at their concert. Considering how the film begins, you’ll soon enough be brainwashed by the transitions that will take you in the world of this band and you’ll totally forget about what was being announced in the beginning. Once the concert at Altamont is reached, the story turns from the Stones to the culture around them. Shots of the concertgoers at Altamont seem outlandish to modern culture, such as when a woman solicits money for the Black Panthers. And occasionally you’ll wake up again in the editing room, back to the initial story.

    The film brilliantly captures this feeling of a free concert dedicated to peace and love going wrong as the Stones enter at sundown to play. As the Hell's Angels tear into the stoned crowd, Mick Jagger, in a politically correct attempt to preserve the peace, finally gives up and utters the famous phrase above: "Who's fighting, and what for?" The shots of the faces in the crowd staring up at Jagger in either incomprehension or fear of reprisal are incredibly powerful images, not to mention the Stones sitting in the editing room watching the final cut shaking their heads as they see the climax of the concert - a young black man dancing about wildly suddenly is seen with a gun in his hand - and the Hell's Angels beat him to death as the frenzied crowd backs away. Although the concert continues, the Altamont section of the film ends at that point, with Mick Jagger requesting the editors to play it back to see the man who lost his life.

    The final sequence of the film - the dazed hippies marching across the fields as the sun sets while "Gimme Shelter" plays - is the summation of the film's statement of a loss of that innocence of the sixties.