Jul 062012

I’m finally getting around to watching this George Harrison documentary, having completed the first half on Independence Day. So far it’s great! I’m honestly shocked.

First of all it provides the one thing any Beatles-related documentary or book needs to provide: fresh images of my rock ‘n roll gods. I am pretty easy to please when it comes to Beatles things if I get to see new still photographs and film clips. It’s probably like the thrill some religious people get when they see a new stained-glass window depicting Jesus on the cross or whatever.

Second, the story starts by framing George square in his career with The Beatles—and it’s not from the Woe Is George perspective I was expecting. George is one of the boys, slowly developing his own perspective on the world through the band’s unique experiences. I put off watching this thing for the last year fearing that it would be produced from the perspective of the Mother’s Basement crowd, you know, those thumb-suckers who take the position that George was “screwed” all those years and that his true genius and equal standing among John and Paul finally came to the fore with the release of All Things Must Pass, including side 6’s underrated “Apple Jam.” Hey man, it’s cool that George is a hero to the quieter ones among us, but let’s be real when it comes to the balance of talent and drive within The Beatles. In part 1 of this documentary, George actually comes off better for his efforts, achievements, and examples of quiet leadership without Scorsese feeling the need to make him a victim.

A bonus delight, as far as I’m concerned, Paul McCartney has not yet come off as the glib, self-serving ass I’ve grown accustomed to seeing in these retrospectives.

I look forward to watching part 2. What did you think about this doc?


  14 Responses to “Late to the Party: Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison’s Living in the Material World

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    We haven’t seen it yet, but after your write up, will seek it out!
    Thanks for the review, Mod.

  2. I guess I wasn’t so far behind the curve on seeing this movie. In RTH terms, I will mention that only minutes into the film RTH hero Ray Cooper practically loses it while trying to discuss George’s death.

  3. I loved the new footage too — and there is some really good stuff in Part Two, where he was at home at Friar Park and with friends and family. The other thing that got me about part two was how much Dhani Harrison looks like the old man!

  4. I thought it sucked.

    E. Pluribus

  5. trigmogigmo

    Definitely looking forward to seeing it. Thanks for the reminder! I noticed it in on the front page of the HBO GO iPad app (free on demand streaming) which I’m trying out.

  6. This is near the top of my Netflix non-Instant queue, which means it may take me a while to get to it. Ah, the afflictions of this cursed modern era!

  7. Did you think the first half sucked too? That’s all I’ve seen so far. I do fear that the second half, on the solo years, will live down to my expectations.

  8. The second half is even worse than the first. Lots of bad sequencing, slide show action, and commentary from people even less insightul than Don Was or Thurston Moore.

    Waste of time, which is a shame because I thought the Dylan documentary was a home run.

    Switching gears here – a buddy of mine sent me some Bill Hicks links. Ever check the guy out? If so, what’s your take?

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    E. Pluribus

  9. misterioso

    I rather liked it. I did feel that it was too Beatle-heavy: stuff I just don’t need to hear about again and again without much new being added. That needed to be truncated. Since I am interested in George’s post-Beatle existence and work I would have liked more, including more depth and critical distance on his solo work, some of which is great and too much of which is ho-hum. Man, though, that 74 Haris on Tour footage is something–I both want to see more of that and at the same time, well, not.

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    I like Don Licks/Hot Licks’ “I Scare Myself” which was covered by Thomas Dolby.

  11. There’s a decent Bill Hicks documentary streaming on netflix right now.

  12. BigSteve

    I liked the way they were honest but not too detailed about George’s drug issues in the 80s. It was also obvious George was not the most faithful husband, but they didn’t trot out the women, which makes sense given that I assume Olivia’s approval was required.

    I can’t believe I, the person who is probably the biggest non-fan of the Beatles here, saw this the week it aired and all the Beatles fans are still holding back.

  13. It is strange. I wonder if this is characteristic of the RTH Beatles nerds demographic or if the wider audience of Beatles nerds stayed away from this.

  14. I finished watching the second half of this doc on Saturday and liked it as much as I liked the first half. I really liked how straightforward it presented Harrison, how “life-sized” it treated him. I thought it was appropriate to his musical achievements and in tune with how he may have seen himself.

    I see what misterioso was saying about that 1974 tour and what BigSteve was saying about the drug troubles. Wow, what drugs lead to that kind of performance?

    The film production section was interesting – I had no idea Ray Cooper was part of that business. Tom Petty’s Wilburys comments were good. The only commentator I found really distracting was Jackie Stewart. No matter what he said I only heard his voice from those motor oil ads, or whatever they were, that he did in the ’70s.

    On a related note, at least through my disagreements with E. Pluribus Gergely regarding humbling rock documenaries, the teenage girl at the front desk of our pool club was reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Pt. 1 yesterday. I was a little surprised that someone her age would be reading that and asked he how she liked it. She said she loved it and then told us she was hoping to get into some freshman seminar class on Dylan when she enters college next year. Smart kid. My was reminded of machinery’s daughter; I imagined Al’s daughter and her Beatles course from a year or two ago.

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