The film itself, says David, is now having the finishing touches put on it. The working title is Love In Vain, though that may change. It's a 95-minute documentary of the Stones' American tour, half of which deals with Altamont. "Emotionally, a good deal more than half of it is Altamont; you can't measure things like that," David says.
"It's very brave of the Stones to go along with this, because the situation in California was very negative. The film is not a shocker, but's a very heavy film, full of lots of meanings, very sensitive, subject to lots of interpretations. It's consistent with what the Rolling Stones represent, in two words, no bullshit, the honest feeling you get from all their songs," he added.
"We thought it was a pretty weird idea to make a film of this until we saw the film," Kantner recalls. "I mean, a guy got killed, the Angels got it off . . . But this film shows what did happen; and it shows everybody's inability to deal with the fact that somebody got killed. I think it'll probably have a positive effect in that everybody will see the negative that went down."
"Mick hasn't said a lot about Altamont, but the film says a lot and he's part of the film both as an 'actor' and as an advisor. The film can maybe speak for him. 'Gimme Shelter' is prophetic. We were all thinking it was a pretty safe world, and Altamont made me realize how out of touch I was at least," stated David. "There really wasn't anything for Mick to say.
"As for what everybody else is saying about that day, Mick really didn't know what was happening, with the Angels and everything. The film clearly shows he couldn't possibly have seen the murder. The people that have popped off have fed a lot of misinformation, and Mick didn't pop off because he didn't want to contribute to that situation. 'Gimme Shelter' is very appropriate. Listen to Mick imploring the audience there between songs. His spontaneous speeches are very sensitive, moving, and intelligent. The film tries to say what happened at Altamont the same way the Stones say what's happening in their songs. The Stones will be respected for this film, rather than criticized the way they were."
Mick, however, can obviously speak for himself, and here's what he has to say about that day and the film that came out of it:
"Like I've seen 100 different versions with 100 different endings. My first reaction was just total horror. It was awful. Nevertheless, I've been trying to abstract myself from it . . . which has only been possible about 50 percent of the time.
"There are lots of things I could say I don't like about it. But I didn't make the film. I made some suggestions. Like it was very slow in parts. Boring. I made suggestions in terms of logic . . . I picked certain shots. There were a lot of different cameras on one scene. I picked one camera. It was when we were doing 'Little Queenie,' and there's one shot. It's really incredible. I found it, I put it in.
"What can you say, it's so hard-hitting. It's their film. It was just so unpleasant to watch. Does anyone want to see it? I mean, I'm not going to rush around, collecting people for a party, for the premiere.
"The thing is, in this kind of film, you make anyone look like what you want them to look like — you know, someone yawning — you put in that yawn at a certain point — and it's given a whole emotional meaning that may not have been there at all. 'Documentary' films aren't real anymore. They're no more real than a story film. You can make it a vehicle for anything you want.
"By editing, by cutting, the Maysles have made it a very personal film. It's their film. It doesn't have anything to do with us anymore.
"I saw the rough cut ages ago. The first time, like, you come out shaking. I didn't have the same feeling when I was at Altamont, and I didn't relive it in the film. I saw it in the film. It's the weirdest film I've seen in a long time. You can make it into anything you want.
"I don't know if it's fair. I don't think fair play was the Maysles' idea in making the film. I think the idea was just to make a film. Certain things are unfair to certain people. Not us. Other people. Just by changing a few seconds, they've established 'that's what this guy thinks.' But, in fact, it's not.
"But there are things in that film that even I didn't know were going on. Like everyone behaves in the same way. Like when the Angels came on heavy, everyone just tries to cool them out, the same way, and they can't.
"I can't be objective about the film, whether it's a good film or a bad film."
This is a story from the September 3, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.
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