George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Director: Martin Scorsese
“Cast”: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Jane Birkin, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector, Ravi Shankar, Pattie Boyd, Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison, George Martin, Jackie Stewart, Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann

George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a documentary about the Beatle George Harrison. Through interviews with his friends, family and colleagues, it looks at his role in the group itself, but also his life after the Beatles, his search for meditation and inner truth, his career as a solo-artist and his family life until his death in 2001.

They showed the two parts of this documentary at once – altogether 208 minutes – and admittedly that got a little long. But it’s a fascinating piece of film with interesting perspectives.

I really enjoyed the hell out of the first half of the film, when it was mostly about The Beatles and Harrison’s place in the band and ultimately him growing into his own as a solo artist. But the second half was mostly about his spiritual journey, and of course you can’t leave that out in a documentary about him as it was a huge part of his life, but I have to admit that I just wasn’t that interested in it.

That’s my own hang-up, no doubt about it. (I’m distrustful of people who are searching so hard for an unspecified something that will make their life magically happy. Because really, what’s so bad about right here, right now?) But knowing that doesn’t necessarily help with my enjoyment.

But actually that’s a pretty minor complaint. It’s clear that even a huge documentary like this one has to focus on something and just because I would have put the focus on something else, doesn’t mean that this film wasn’t interesting or insightful.

And for the most part I really enjoyed it. The interviews were interesting, the people they got to talk were great and the archive footage was really well chosen. But most of all it felt honest and true.

Summarising: don’t watch it all at once, but watch it.

4 thoughts on “George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

    • Oh yes! I started listening to his music excessively, too. :) I mean, I did like his Beatles songs a lot already, but for some reason I didn’t really get into his solo stuff until then.

      • Yeah, it took me a while to get into his solo stuff, and even now, I don’t like all of his albums. I love All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World, and I also really like his self-titled album from 1979 (actually, that one is oddly my favourite).

        • What surprised me was how many of his songs I actually knew. I never thought of his solo career as particularly successful but then you listen to his albums and it’s like, “wait, that’s George Harrison? And that’s him, too? He’s had a shitload of hits!”

          And I also got into The Traveling Wilburys, for good measure. ;)

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