George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

Thought it was time I contemporised a bit; it’s been months since I last watched anything from this century, and this at least has the decency to have only been released about six months ago, making it the nearest thing to an actually new film I’ve reviewed since I started this blog… Anyway, isn’t it remarkable how a person can make a film that spends nearly three and a half hours on its subject and yet the end result still feels incomplete? I got that feeling from Scorsese’s bio of “the quiet Beatle”, who I think spent much of his life being overshadowed by his bandmates in the Beatles, both during the lifetime of that band and after it… just look at their discography, he starts out being given one of John or Paul’s songs to sing, finally given one or two spaces on each album for his own songs, gradually allowed to contribute a single B-side, then eventually an A-side (“Something”, which Frank Sinatra said was the greatest love song ever written but ascribed to Lennon/McCartney), until finally he blossomed with his very own triple album and the Bangladesh thing… but then John and Paul carried on through the 70s while George seemed to fade somewhat. There was some recognition again by the late 80s, but then relative silence until his death… and he didn’t die as publicly as John, he never really had the success of another major band like Paul, he didn’t tour for nearly 20 years.  He seemed content to remain kind of obscure, and the film kind of leaves him that way, too. The overall impression I got was of an extended appendix to the Anthology, a useful look at the Fabs from George’s less-explored perspective, but only useful if you already had some familiarity with them and him, and on the whole it was hard not to feel it never really got that close to its subject. I suspect Harrison wouldn’t have been too unhappy with that, though it was frustrating for me the viewer…

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