Very Good Look at a Man Wanting to Find What All Life Has to Offer
7 October 2011
George Harrison: Living in a Material World (2011)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Considering some of the movies that director Martin Scorsese has made you'd think that he'd be the wrong person to tell the life story of George Harrison but after viewing this mammoth documentary it's easy to see why the two went together. This documentary runs 203-mintues so it's extremely wrong but it covers just about everything you'd want to know about Harrison. We start off with his brothers talking about what type of kid he was and then we move to his audition for what would become The Beatles. From here we see the bands rise and fall as well as how Harrison decided to go solo with All Things Must Pass. He experiments with drugs are well documentary as is the influence Indian music had on him. The Bangladesh concert, his Traveling Wilburys days and his comeback are also discussed before we get to the 1999 home invasion attack as well as his fight with cancer. Among those interviewed are Harrison's widow Olivia, Terry Gilliam, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Eric Idle, George Martin, Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, Ravi Shankar and Phil Spector among many others. With such a long running time I went into the film a little worried that there was just going to be too much but I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the film went by as it certainly doesn't feel over three hours. What works so well is that there's a clear direction in all the material and it appears that Scorsese wanted to get across that Harrison was constantly searching for something that he could probably only find in death. It's clear from those interviewed that Harrison wanted to experience as much as he can and there's a lot of talk about him preparing himself for death and he wanting to be prepared for when he eventually left his body. I found all of this to be quite fascinating and the real master work from Scorsese comes towards the very end. We get a pretty disturbing story of Harrison being attacked in his home, which his widow tells in such a way that you can't help but feel creeped out. Everyone knows that Harrison did eventually die from cancer but I won't ruin how this film ends but lets just say that it's quite powerful. I think the weakest part of the film is some of the stuff dealing with The Beatles simply because we've seen it so many times before. The first part of the film runs 94-minutes and goes up to just before the Beatles broke up. Part two clocks in just under two-hours and goes from the break-up to Harrison's death and I think this portion of the documentary is the best. Either way, fans are certainly going to enjoy all the concert footage, rare photos, the interviews and of course Harrison gets to speak his own words with some old interviews.
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