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the late 1960s, without the rosy spectacles
on May 25, 2004
Despite the bad sound and grainy film quality, this is a riveting, brutal documentary that focuses on the 1969 free concert at Altamont Speedway that was envisioned by the Rolling Stones as a fun time for everyone to "get it on", and ended with chaos and someone being killed, which is shown in the film. With the Hell's Angels in charge of security, and a vast crowd in a senseless and often aggressive drug induced stupor, watching this evolve is like looking into the abyss of the damned. The mid and late '60s were not the flower-power love generation years some remember through rose-tinted lenses, they were very often violent and hateful, as anyone who saw the rabble "express themselves" at the 1968 Democratic Convention can attest. There are people who blame the outcome of this concert on the Hell's Angels, but this film proves that they were only a part of the problem.
There is also much pretension: Guys in suits trying to be hip and cool, and Melvin Belli, the celebrity attorney of his day, making sure he gets his 15 minutes of camera time. The Rolling Stones (at this point Mick Taylor had replaced Brian Jones, who had died in July of that year) seem to be out of place in dealing with their fame, and trying to "act the part", as well as being in a fog of substance abuse. Mick Jagger is the one that appears to be the most "in control", and he tries his best to bring calm and order to the concert crowd, to no avail.
There are short sequences of other groups, like the Jefferson Airplane, and musically, perhaps the best part in the entire film is Tina Turner, as she sings "I've Been Loving You Too Long" all the while using the microphone as a substitute love interest.
Total running time is 91 minutes.
All or in part, the songs performed by the Stones are:
"Honky Tonk Man"
"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
"Love in Vain"
"Street Fighting Man"
"Sympathy for the Devil"
"Under My Thumb"
"You Gotta Move"