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November 2, 2011 / jhsaeger

Scorsese’s George Harrison Documentary

    For those fortunate enough to see Martin Scorsese’s HBO documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, they’ve seen a vastly different side of “The Quiet Beatle.”  While some parts of Harrison’s private life that were discussed in the film had only been hinted at in the past, Scorsese unearthed some new material that shed light on the subject’s post-Beatles career.  Two factors that make Living in the Material World truly impressive are the vast amount of video footage Scorsese compiled and the list of interviewees – Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Beatles producer George Martin, the Halloween costume that is Phil Spector, Eric Clapton, Monty Python’s Eric Idle, Tom Petty, Olivia and Dhani Harrison.  
   The marathon 208-minute film is divided into two segments: Fab Four and post-Fab Four.  The Beatles portion is interesting as it details their coming-of-age tenure in Hamburg, what it was like for the band as they rose to iconic status, and a very intimate look at some of the factors that forced their breakup.  
   During the second part of Living in the Material World, Scorsese takes the audience through Harrison’s widely-unknown private life.  His drug abuse, oversexed life, and search for something beyond material wealth are all discussed.  Included are his saving the Monty Python film Life of Brian and his venture with the Traveling Wilburys.  The most stunning part of the documentary comes towards the conclusion when Petty recalls Harrison’s remarks after Roy Orbison’s death.  It’s a lengthy project to tackle, but the documentary is worthy to look at if you’re an avid Beatles fan or are just curious about one of the 20th century’s more complex figures.  

3 Comments

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  1. Sidney Purnell / Nov 2 2011 4:28 pm

    This was such a great documentary. Harrison was so much more complex than I realized and much more influential on The Beatles than we're let on to believe previously.

  2. John Saeger / Nov 2 2011 7:32 pm

    Agreed, I learned that from Paul McCartney talking about how George Harrison had all those songs lined up, ready to go – but there was only so much room on a Beatles album. I learned more about the dynamic of the group from that.

  3. Janet / Nov 4 2011 9:10 pm

    "The Halloween costume that is Phil Spector" is probably my favorite thing you've written so far. ❤

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