Gimme Shelter

There’s a moment in Gimme Shelter, David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin’s documentary of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American tour, that’s just as stunning today as it was in 1970, when the film was first released. It’s the moment in which Mick Jagger realizes that he has failed to give the devil his due. Onstage at Altamont, Jagger has just launched into “Under My Thumb.” The hand-held camera is pretty tight on his face as he looks out at the violence that has broken out right in front of the stage. The Hell’s Angels, who have been hired as security, are randomly clubbing kids in the first rows as their friends try in vain to protect them. The situation was already out of hand before the Stones took the stage, but either they were in denial or they believed that things would only get worse if they refused to perform. Gimme Shelter follows “the world’s greatest rock and roll band” at the height of its showmanship and musical energies for roughly 20 days. The filmmakers intercut live tour footage with material shot later in the editing room, when the Stones came to view an early version of the film, which would need their approval for release. A pop culture document for a mass audience, Gimme Shelter slyly lets you know in every frame that it’s gone to the limits of the law. Movie screens at midnight. (R) AMY TAUBIN

Fri., Sept. 16; Sat., Sept. 17, 2011