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DVD Review: GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD



Studio: UMe
Year: 2012
Cast: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty, Phil Spector, Ringo Star, Jackie Stewart
Director: Martin Scorcese
Release Date: May 01, 2012
Rating: Not Rated for adult themes
Run Time: 01h:45m:00s
Genre(s): documentary

"It's our images, just us." - George Harrison

GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD

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Long and engrossing, Living in the Material World tells the story of the "quiet Beatle" George Harrison. Archive footage, private photos, and personal anecdotes paint this glossy portrait of the musician, artist and religious philosopher.

Movie Grade: A+

DVD Grade: A+

I remember back in the days of The Beatles when each of the four represented a certain way of being. Ringo was the comic one, John was the rebellious one, Paul was the sweet one and George was the spiritual one. I always found myself caught somewhere between John and George. Both created these odd and amazing songs that really didn't fit into any category. After the Beatles broke up and George released All Things Must Pass album, which I listened to a million times, I broke more to the George camp. The detachment of the meditative Blue Jay Way seemed more attractive than the gritty activism that John came to represent. But, ultimately George was a strange cat and hard to get close to as a fan.

The Beatles have always been a part of my life's playlist. From before Sergeant Pepper and on through Abbey Road, I have listened to their records and watched their movies. The Bangla Desh concert movie and disc was big to me as it shined a new kind of light on humanitarianism. I have always really liked the songs of Harrison, particularly My Sweet Lord. Every Thanksgiving we pull out the DVD version of Concert For George and play the whole concert from beginning to end. So, yes, I am a fan of George Harrison.

This documentary is part of series of music-related films directed by Martin Scorcese. Starting with the iconic The Last Waltz in 1978 starring the The Band in their "last" concert along with a gang of Seventies music luminaries. Then in 2003's The Blues, Scorcese produced a documentary about the genre that featured a different director covered each of seven parts. Scorcese himself directed Feel Like Going Home which kicked of the series and covered the Delta blues. Two years later he created No Direction Home which included extensive interivews with Bob Dylan and told the story of his early career. In 2008, The Rolling Stones were the subject of his concert film Shine A Light.

This new film follows music legend George Harrison's story from his early life in Liverpool, the success of Beatlemania, his travels to India, the influence of Indian culture in his music, and his relevance and importance as a member of The Beatles. It consists of previously unseen footage and interviews with Olivia and Dhani Harrison, friends, and many others. The positive aspects of Harrison's life receive the emphasis and this is a tribute more than a frank retelling.

It is not the story of what is like to be a Beatle, but rather what one might do with fact that one had been a Beatle. George ran in that layer between popularity and fame. His friend and former bandmate murdered and he himself attacked by a crazed fan, in no way did George Harrison every live a normal life except in his own context. He had his downs but his ups will live on forever. We see Harrison as musician, artist, humanitarian and family man.

The engrossing content of this movie is alternately intriguing, poignant, thrilling, nostalgic, exasperating and hilarious and back and again. Most interesting is the tales of Harrison's later life. There have been countless retellings of the rise of the Beatles, both fiction and nonfiction, over the years, but precious little about their ultra-rich, exclusive lives away from the spotlight. Harrison is a particular case as he withdrew from regular live performance and personal appearances, unlike former bandmates McCartney and Starr. The death of John Lennon in 1980 added to his reluctance for fear of similar attack that found its realization in the bizarre incident at his home in 1999.

Some of the individuals providing memories, anecdotes and insights to the film include Neil Aspinall, John Barham, Jane Birkin, Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper, Terry Gilliam, Mukunda Goswami, Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison, Harry Harrison, Irene Harrison, Louise Harrison, Pauline Harrison, Peter Harrison, Damon Hill, Eric Idle, Arthur Kelly, Jim Keltner, Astrid Kirchherr, Paul Lanzanic, Jeff Lynne, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Gary Moore, Gordon Murray, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty, Ken Scott, Ravi Shankar, Phil Spector, Ringo Starr, Jackie Stewart, Joan Taylor, Klaus Voorman, and Gary Wright.

Harrison's widow Olivia met Scorsese, she gave her blessings and signed on to the film project as a producer utilizing the musician film archive. The project was put together over 2008 and 2009 before premiering at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool in October of 2011. Then it was shown on HBO in two parts in the US and Canada and as a two part Arena special on BBC Two in November 2011 in the UK.

This is an excellent movie for fans of music, The Beatles and George Harrison.

Bonus Features:
Paul McCartney 2:24 - Anecdotes
Here Comes the Sun 2:40 - Dhani Harrison and George Martin find hidden nuggets in the mix
Damon Hill 4:28 - Anecdotes and video footage
Jeff Lynne 2:56 - Anecdotes
Dispute and Violence 5:13 - Excellent video of a live performance. Makes one hungry for more of this concert footage! If one element emerges from George's artistry is that he was so far ahead of everyone in the fusion of world music.

Posted by: Jesse Shanks - June 3, 2012, 11:15 am - DVD Review
Keywords: music, biography




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