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George Harrison: Living In The Material World - Movie Review - 2011

Up Close and Very Personal

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George Harrison: Living In The Material World - Movie Review - 2011

George Harrison Living In The Material World - Poster Art

Is there anyone on the planet who doesn't have a personal relationship with George Harrison? I think not. His music and mission reached everyone. He was adored, and rightly so. And, Martin Scorsese's brilliant biodoc about the man, his life, his music and his mission will let you know, up close and very personal, all the reasons why.

From Beginning To Beginning

This documentary expresses unabashed adoration for George Harrison, and no apologies about it. And, that's just fine with me.

The film's first images are of tulips, with George, late in his life, peering through them and into the camera. This opening immediately informs us that we're going on a magical, mystical tour of George's worldly and inner life. And, it never -- not for one minute or frame of its three and a half hours duration -- lets us down on its promise.

Through an extraordinary treasury of beautifully edited archival elements -- first-time released home video, family photos, news clippings and other sources -- the film illustrates the many phases of George's personal evolution, starting with his teen years in Liverpool, when he, wielding his boss guitar and attention-getting hair hooked up with John Lennon and Paul McCartney to become The Beatles, who quickly began making waves in local clubs and garnering fans from near and far.

The film chronicles The Beatles' career arc, and illustrates George's changing role in the band as the Fab Four became pop phenoms, icons and transformational figures in world culture. It follows George as he travels to India, explores the path of Indian spirituality and embraces it as his own, and learns about Indian music and adopts it as part of his practice. And, then, it covers his solo career, a period during which he was actually much less solo and much more collaborative than most people assumed at the time.

George appears in the film a lot -- in performance and archival interviews from way back when and latter day.

Spiritual, But Not Saintly

George Harrison Living In The Material World - George in India

The film highlights George's significant personal triumphs, excesses and hiccups -- including disagreements with The Beatles, disappointments during his collaboration with the group, and the breakup of his marriage to Patti Boyd.

A Fascinating Life

All told, George's life, career and friends are undeniably fascinating subjects.

Of course, much of the story of George's Life in the Material World is already well known, and a most of it - in depth or in abbreviated form - is available from other sources. But in this documentary, Martin Scorsese and editor David Tedeschi present the story in a way that sheds light on George's inner self and reveals his point of view. This unique perspective and their success in capturing and communicating it is extraordinary.

A Meaningful Collaboration

The film's success is due, perhaps in large part, to the collaboration of George's widow, Olivia Harrison, produced the film and chose Scorsese to direct. On camera and off, Harrison shared her personal insights about George - the artist, the man and his mission. She provided the production with unlimited access to previously untapped resources - letters and diaries written by George and her own very personal memories of events in their shared lives.

Others stepped up, too, sharing memories of George. In on camera interviews, Paul Mc Cartney, Eric Clapton, Eric Idle, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, George Martin, Terry Gilliam, Phil Spector and other friends and collaborators open their hearts to tell anecdotes and share their impressions based on their close relationships with George.

A Labor of Love

Insights provided by Olivia Harrison, as well as George's son, Dhani, and ex-wife Patti Boyd, are intimate and emotionally affecting. George Harrison: Living in the Material World took five years to finish. It is clearly a labor of love and, as evidenced by those who came together to make the movie, there is an endless stream of love for George Harrison, and of respect for his legacy. George would certainly appreciate that -- and the film itself.

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Film Details:

  • Title: George Harrison: Living In The Material World
  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Premiere: October 4, 2011 (New York Film Festival)
  • Broadcast Premiere: Part One on October 5, 2011; Part Two on October 6, 2011 (HBO)
  • Running Time: 208 mins., shown in two parts.
  • Parental Guidance: Advisory for Parental Guidance for content, language.
  • Location: England, India and elsewhere on tour
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Production Companies: Grove Street Pictures, Silkelia Productions, Spitfire Pictures
  • Distribution Company: HBO
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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