As almost every review here concentrates on the film, I've decided to limit mine to the Deluxe Edition itself...
THE HD TRANSFER:
In a word: Incredible! Living In The Material World draws from every recording medium of the last 60 years, from super 8 to 35mm, VHS to HD video, all of which is rendered beautifully across this 1080p disc. The filmmakers have clearly gone to great lengths to source the very best picture elements available. The film footage is transferred so beautifully it is almost akin to watching a cinema projection. The interviews from The Beatles' Anthology are a revelation, banishing the pixellated DVD edition into oblivion. The countless stills are so pin sharp and sumptuous they almost feel 3-Dimensional. An absolutely gorgeous HD transfer.
Somewhat bizarrely, the 2.0 PCM soundtrack seems to be in mono. This is more than made up for by the fantastic DTS HD Master Audio track. These songs would sound wonderful on a beat-up transistor radio, but listening to Harrison and The Beatles in master quality isn't entirely unwelcome.
THE BLU-RAY/DVD EXTRAS:
A huge disappointment. I was expecting more extensive versions of the interviews featured in the film. Unfortunately, the entire selection only amounts to a measly 23 minutes. Paul McCartney and Neil Aspinall's interviews clock in at only 2:23 & 3:31 respectively. Such a missed opportunity considering the huge amount of material the filmmakers must have amassed. The extras exclusive to this deluxe edition are equally "blink and you'll miss it", offering nothing of worth compared to the standard release.
THE AUDIO CD:
A nice if inessential collection of demos, drawing mainly from the All Things Must Pass era (fleshed-out versions of six of the ten tracks included on the 30 minute disc feature on that album). More enjoyable than the film extras, the standouts for me were the warmly primitive versions of "Awaiting on You All" and "Behind That Locked Door", with Pete Drake's pedal steel shining through beautifully. I do not have a huge knowledge of George Harrison bootlegs so I am unaware of how rare these tracks may be, and no recording dates are supplied.
Awful. This does not compare favourably with similarly-priced "deluxe editions" at all. The white cardboard "picture frame" looks and feels very cheap, as does the inner disc book, which is made from glossy but also rather flimsy card. The section for holding the discs is utterly useless. Containing no inner studs to keep the discs in place, all 4 of them had broken free inside the box upon opening. Mine were thankfully scratch-free, although the holders are so bad that the discs fly out every time the box is picked up!
Simply an edited paperback version of the already-released hardback. I'd hazard a guess that any fans willing to cough up for this box set will probably own the hardback edition already, which features many more photographs. The inclusion of this condensed version is pointless.
Sadly, I cannot recommend this deluxe edition, particularly for the current price tag. We've had a glut of "ultimate editions" of late and this does not compare favourably with any of them. It is also particularly disappointing after the beautiful Harrison and Ravi Shankar Collaborations
box set. I would therefore urge anyone who can live without the demo CD to buy the separate Blu-ray
editions and the accompanying hardback
instead. Less money for a much better experience.
The CD, billed as being "exclusive to this edition" when this box was originally marketed (at double the current price, I might add), has now been issued separately
, rendering this edition entirely irrelevant. Therefore, I've dropped this to one star.
Perhaps the Harrison estate should examine Paul McCartney's recent reissues for an example of what "deluxe editions" really mean...