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Their satanic majesties’ movies: The Rolling Stones in cinema

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From the mid-1950s to the early-1970s, the several phases of the rock ‘n’ roll film differently negotiated the various kinds of delinquency attributed to the new music. At its inception, critics associated what was thought to be its musical delinquency with social delinquencies: working-class and African American’s insubordination, and sexual promiscuity. The 1950s’ jukebox musicals, the first rock ‘n’ roll film genre, disputed these associations and narrated the music as innocuous teenage entertainment, fully compatible with and assimilable to the culture industries. Documentary films about late-1960s’ ‘rock’, most notably Monterey Pop (D. A. Pennebaker, 1968) and Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970), transvalued the terms of the earlier critiques and celebrated their role in a biracial folk community based on peace and love. Films about the Rolling Stones, however, re-asserted the delinquencies, affirming instead the band’s associations with violence, misogyny and insurrection. The most crucial of them, Gimme Shelter (Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, 1970), portrayed the collapse of the utopian countercultural community earlier films had proposed.
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Keywords: Direct Cinema; biracial folk community; countercultures; jukebox musicals; late-1960s; musical delinquency; rock ā€˜nā€™ roll film; the Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Southern California

Publication date: 01 December 2016

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  • The Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) is the first international peer-reviewed scholarly publication devoted to artists' film and video, and its contexts. It offers a forum for debates surrounding all forms of artists' moving image and media artworks: films, video installations, expanded cinema, video performance, experimental documentaries, animations, and other screen-based works made by artists. MIRAJ aims to consolidate artists' moving image as a distinct area of study that bridges a number of disciplines, not limited to, but including art, film, and media.
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