Martin Scorsese has his way with the quiet Beatle
Martin Scorsese loves music. Furthermore, he understands its rhythms and potency like few directors do. That’s why I had such high hopes going into his 3 and a 1/2-hour documentary, “George Harrison: Living In the Material World.” The film airs in two parts on HBO Oct. 5 and Oct. 6.
There are moments of exhilaration and illumination, and, of course, there is the glorious music. However, the documentary isn’t consistently compelling and could use some tighter focus.
The first half is devoted to Harrison’s childhood and the Beatles’ formation. Even the most casual Beatles fan will feel the excitement of seeing footage of the band during its formative years in Hamburg, Germany, but the story devotes more time to the group as a whole than to Harrison (other than we learn he had a nasty temper that could show up very unexpectedly). Not that a documentary on Harrison has to have the spotlight pointed at him 100%, but Scorsese allows talking heads like Hamburg photographer Astrid Kirchherr and her boyfriend, musician Klaus Voormann (or at least he was until the Beatles original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe pulled her away), to go on a little too long about the general zeitgeist during the Beatles’ time in Germany.
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