Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter (1970)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
Gimme Shelter

We Love the Maysles Brothers
Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Instructor: Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Muhlenberg College

In late 1969, only a few months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones decided to stage a similar festival near San Francisco, headlining a bill that would also include the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane (among others). The concert was to be a celebration of peace, love, and music. In the spirit of the age, they avoided traditional security, using the Hells Angels motorcycle gang to keep the peace and relying on a spirit of brotherhood and connection to rule the day. That is not what happened. 

Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin were all veterans of the Direct Cinema movement throughout the 1960s. Taking advantage of newer lightweight cameras and sound recording gear, Direct Cinema took documentary out of the studios, away from the talking heads, and into the everyday lives of people both famous and ordinary.  

The rock stars of Gimme Shelter (1970) and their fans are uncomfortably close in this film as the infamous concert at Altamont starts to come apart, and we watch as not just an event, but an entire social movement starts to fracture. Rarely in history is a documentary crew present at such an unplanned moment. It is even more rare that the crew is one with the skill to record the occasion with such care, thoughtfulness, and even-handedness. 

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Wednesday, May 29 · 6:30 pm