Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: George Harrison: Living in the Material World: Part 1

Being a lifelong fan of both the Beatles and the films of Martin Scorsese, I was intrigued to learn that Scorsese had recently directed a documentary about the life of George Harrison. This new doc is entitled George Harrison: Living in the Material World and this past October it was released in theaters (limited), on Blu-Ray and DVD, and was also broadcast as a film in two parts on HBO. I recently had a chance to watch the film in two separate viewings, which given its length of nearly four hours, will be necessary for many people.

The project was envisioned by George Harrison’s widow Olivia, who is credited as a producer, and she could not have but placed it in better creative hands. Scorsese and his editor David Tedeschi, have woven together a patchwork quilt of public and private photos, videos, and concert footage, along with interview segments with some of George’s closest friends and family, and intriguing journal excerpts to provide an intimate, yet respectful glance into the life of a private man whose talent and circumstances thrust him into a very public life.
Add caption
Having spent my whole life as an avid Beatle fan, I have probably been exposed to nearly all of the Fab Four media that has been officially released or bootlegged over the last three-plus decades, most of it several times over. In light of this, I was truly impressed with Scorsese’s ability to recount George Harrison’s Beatle days without treading on very familiar ground during the first part of the film. So little of the content had been seen or heard before that the film was fresh and intriguing even for the Beatle fans that may have grown weary of the same photos, clips, and sound-bites that have been re-packaged and re-sold year after year. Particularly interesting were recited letters written by George to his parents in his early days with the Beatles. These glimpses into his private life reveal that even then, on the cusp of superstardom, a teenage Harrison was mature beyond his years and viewed life through a simple prism.

Scorsese delves into George Harrison “the person” in a way that few Beatles-related works have done in the past. As a member of the Beatles and a successful solo artist, George was indeed loved by millions from a distance. Yet in this documentary, Scorsese drives home the sense that George was a man truly and dearly loved by those who came to know him well. Interviews with lifelong friends Eric Clapton and Ravi Shankar, early Beatle era cohorts Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann, Monty Python collaborators Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, Traveling Wilbury’s band member Tom Petty, and of course, Beatle band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, paint a portrait of a man who was a devoted friend and truly had a profoundly positive effect on those who loved him. Extensive interviews with Harrison’s widow Olivia and short segments with his son Dhani delicately examine the private side and home life of the legendary musician.

Please check back for Part 2 of the review of George Harrison: Living in the Material World...

No comments:

Post a Comment