Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Intriguing Story of "The Quiet Beatle"

As we look forward to Ron Howard's forthcoming documentary about the Beatles touring years, let's take a glance back at George Harrison: Living In the Material World, an insightful biography of the guitarist & songwriter. It originally aired back in 2011 on HBO. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this two-part documentary traces the life of Harrison from his time as a member of The Beatles through his solo career, up to his death from cancer in 2001. It’s an informative biography, produced with the participation of Harrison’s widow Olivia, and his son Dhani. Through interviews with them, and George’s friends and collaborators, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty and Eric Clapton, we get an in-depth portrait of the musician and the man, who was known (perhaps inaccurately) as “The Quiet Beatle.” There are some wonderful performance clips of (and a look at the stories behind) classic songs like Something, All Things Must Pass, and Here Comes The Sun. Much of the video footage and photos seen are taken from George’s personal archives, and were released by Olivia for use in the movie. 

Scorsese’s film is a story about Harrison and his music, but it’s also a thoughtful study of the former Beatle’s journey toward spiritual enlightenment and personal growth. There's some great coverage in the film on George's 1971 show, The Concert for Bangladesh, one of the earliest superstar benefit concerts. The movie also features Harrison's comeback in the late 80s & early 90s with the successful solo album Cloud Nine, and as a member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, along with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. Like Scorsese’s 2005 film about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, the movie examines the contradictions between being a public figure whose music is admired by millions, and the desire to have a private & personal life beyond that world. It's a rich portrait of the man, as well as the rock star, and it succeeds admirably in showing a side of George Harrison we haven't seen in other movies or books. The film is available for online viewing, and has also been released on Blu-ray & DVD. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer:

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