211 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Dark Horse
A documentary on a music celebrity can be measured by content (what footage did they access and who was willing to contribute?) and insight (what new light did it shed on the subject?). On the first point Martin Scorsese knocks the ball out of the park. Though I didn't feel I knew George any better than before by the end, I was treated to nearly four hours of dazzling and...
Published on 5 Oct 2011 by Matt Blick
73 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DELUXE EDITION REVIEW
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...
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by Chankos
Most Helpful First | Newest First
211 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Dark Horse,
I watched both parts of the film at UK preview and at no point did my attention or enthusiasm flag. In fact I would have happily sat through any outtakes! This beautifully crafted film is packed with concert footage, home movies, press conferences, interviews, photos and documents that I've never seen before, even though I've been researching the Beatles quite heavily for several years for Beatles Songwriting Academy. There are interviews with (or at least footage of) everyone you would hope to see. Beatles, wives, brothers, son, Pythons and peers. Everyone from Eric Clapton to Eric Idle.
The documentary is constructed entirely from interviews and clips without explanation or analysis. The closest we get to a voiceover is Dhani Harrison reading excerpts from his father's diary and letters to his mum. Though the film is visually stunning it's strange watching the practically square picture forced upon us by the source material. Equally quirky is the sound editing. Scorsese doesn't know the meaning of 'fade'. All the music cuts brutally, sometimes after a few seconds. Sometimes this is cool. Mostly it's odd. The film is largely chronological and there are some great juxtapositions of sound and visuals like All Things Must Pass accompanies footage of the WW2 bombers that plagued the Liverpool of Harrison's birth. The first part covers George's life up to the White Album.
It's hard to pick out favourite parts. But Harrison's obvious delight watching archive footage of the Beatles miming This Boy, laughing and singing along, is one. The Beatles performing If I Needed Someone, Harrison playing What Is Love? with Billy Preston, and seeing the Travelling Wilburys in the studio would be others.
There are moments of laugh out loud humour, especially TV footage of crusty professors discuss the significance of Pop music while Beatles and Mick Jagger seeth like captive wild animal in the background and Tom Petty recounting Harrison arriving at his house with a trunk full of ukeleles. But Harrison's story of how Lennon and McCartney inspired him to start composing is the best - "If John and Paul can write [songs] everybody must be able to". The Maharishi (a spiritual Joe Pasquali) and Phil Spector (a croaking, unblinking vision of craziness with a permanent twitching thumb) also provide some unintentional humour.
Scorsese deserves praise for not going down the revisionist myth making route trodden by the Anthology series, especially as Olivia Harrison was one of his producers. Olivia is honest, though vague, about George's infidelity as is Klaus Voorman is about his drug problems. But the lack of a narrator almost makes George a mirror in which we see his world. We know he was loved, deeply, by friends - racing drivers, comedians and film makers, musicians, but we don't whether he was truly loveable. Terry Gilliam describes George as a mix of "grace, humour and a weird kind of angry bitterness" but what made him that way? Did he ever find a release from that bitterness? Was he a good father? Nearing death Harrison asked Olivia if he had been a good husband. She never tells us what her answer was."What's the secret of a long marriage?" She asks herself. "Don't get divorced".
It may sound strange but the highest point for me was simply hearing the music. Listening to Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps I was almost moved to tears at the transcendent beauty of those recordings.
Perhaps the fact that the film cause me to fall in love with the music all over again is it's greatest recommendation.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holey,
This review is from: George Harrison - Living in the Material World (Deluxe Edition) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)Here's the Scorcese film of George H, the quiet one and at 3+ hours you'd hope that it would be the final word, the full story, the bees knees. It is, however, a curates egg.
The first half covers the years up to around 1968. If you're a Beatles fan then you'll know the tale inside out. What adds a bit more seasoning to this is the addition of previously unseen footage, not much admittedly, but enough to draw you in. I noticed some very early colour footage of the Fabs in what appearred to be their Hamburg days. Also some shots of John and George on a cliff top circa 1967 and more colour footage at Kinfauns - bet the neighbours loved that self made graffitti on the walls...
The second half is where this could deliver, but unfortunately falls down. We get some mention of George as a producer but the axis shifts to his work with the Radha Krishna Temple. That's a shame because GH produced some great albums for Billy Preston, Doris Troy and Jackie Lomax as well as adding his trade mark guitar to Day After Day by Bad Finger. Put it this way, I've got the Apple box and have never played the RKT CD but have played the others.
We get a fair bit of detail on All Things Must Pass and tracks from that glorious album are used as musical beds throughout the film. We also get the Concert for Bangladesh and some welcome shots of the ill fated 1974 Dark Horse tour. But after that, we get nothing at all on George's musical career until the Wilbury's. I spoke with someone I work with who had seen the film on TV and who likes the Beatles but has a skimpy knowledge of George. His words were, "didn't he release any records after 1974? But I remember a number one he had in 1987?". And this is the problem, anyone with a similar knowledge would have thought George was musically mute after 1974.
Not only is there no mention of post 1974 albums, there's also no mention of the Dark Horse label. OK, this wasn't on a par with Apple but it did score a top 45 for Splinter with Costafinetown. It also played home to some pretty esoteric acts, including Ravi Shankar. Back to my work colleague - "every so often some sitar music cropped up, and really once is enough". I take his point.
George's reaction to the murder of JHL is reduced to a quote from Olivia: "He was upset that John hadn't decided how he wanted to leave his body". That was it? I understood that relations between JL and GH were strained at the time of Lennon's death as a result of John's comments on I Me Mine, George's autobiography. Lennon commented that by virtue of the lack of mention of Lennon in the book, George was saying that John's impact on his life was nil. George responded by writing "All Those Years Ago" but changed the lyrics to a more concilliatory tone after JL was shot. Again, no mention.
We're told about Handmade films and maybe too much time is spent on Monty Python because we get no mention of how or why the company folded or of the infamous Madonna Film, Shanghai Surprise. Wasn't it the case that the collapse of Handmade brought George so close to the financial brink that he had to agree to rake over the Beatle coals for Anthology, something he'd previously refused to do? Again, a glaring hole like an elephant in the room.
There's mention of a cocaine issue and maybe dalliances with other women. You only have to look at the moon face George in the 1974 tour shots to see that there was maybe a drug thing going off. Also, the 1979 song Soft Hearted Hana showed that even as late as the end of that decade, George was still dabbling.
Of the presentation, I watched the Blu Ray and the sound and picture quality is top notch. You only have to see the brief clip of the Strawberry Fields Forever clip and hear the Savoy Truffle track to appreciate that perhaps now is the time for Anthology to be transferred to Blu Ray.
And the package? You get a Blu Ray of the film as well as 2DVD of it. The extras include additional interviews, including a nice McCartney tale as well as more footage from the dark Horse. Unfortunately it's more of them there sitars... You also get a ten track CD of George demos. I initially thought that these were All Things Must pass tracks but listening to them, it's clear that they span George's career - there are some parping 1980 saxophones on at least one track. No track details are given, but no doubt someone like Doug Sulphy is working out the parentage as we type.
You also get a reduced version of the hard back book, which is OK because I'd not bought it. There are also a couple of high quality prints: a B&W early shot and a smashing colour one from the 1968 Mad Day Out sessions. Finally, you can use the box as a frame to show the prints if you like. But you won't will you?
In summary, is it worth it? Well, the film was shown on TV a week or so after this was released so if you've taped that then you're missing just the bonus footage, the music CD and the book/ prints. The Blu ray format is, however, grand. On balance, it's a lovely set. The film is flawed and the omissions regrettable but this is probably the most important Beatle related release since Anthology in terms of footage.
73 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DELUXE EDITION REVIEW,
This review is from: George Harrison - Living in the Material World (Deluxe Edition) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)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 or DVD 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...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Enjoyable but not Definitive,
Unless this DVD were 10 hours long and featured the entire interviews with all the key people, thoroughly covered all aspects of his unique life and included all available unreleased film, it couldn't hope to please everyone. Indeed, for some people who are merely interested but not fanatics, it might even be seen as too long.
If you've read most Beatles related books, have all the albums and own `Anthology', there won't be that much fresh stuff in the film. There are some new interviews, such as those with Klaus Voormann and Olivia, which shed some new light on George the person, but overall, most of it's been heard or seen before. You'll probably find more interesting material on Youtube.
The film reminds me of the 1973 `Film About Jimi Hendrix' in that it's a collection of film and music clips, interviews and photos which provide a good `rockumentary' rather than a satisfying film experience; and, sadly, its subject is no longer with us.
Reviewing this DVD presents somewhat of a challenge:
* assuming purchasers are George Harrison fans, is there sufficient quality and quality of footage to present the story of his life (no). For example, far too much of the film is devoted to George Beatle;
* as a film, does it hang together and flow (no). Rather like the 1973 Hendrix film, it comes across as a collection of clips in which different themes are mixed up with each other;
* does it measure up to other Martin Scorsese music films such as No Direction Home and The Last Waltz (no);
* are there `holes' in the story about which need to be filled (yes, several, such as the key role of religion in George's life, his latter records and career, his relationship with Pattie etc);
* are the sound and picture of good quality (they're OK, bearing in mind the source material, although the sound level can vary even within the same clip);
* is watching it an enjoyable and moving experience (yes, although Concert for George has a higher lump-in-throat count);
* does not going ape over this film mean that you're not a George Harrison fan and no longer love his music (no).
Conclusion: if you're a Harrison fan, you'll want it regardless of its shortcomings and enjoy it as long as you don't expect too much. But it does keep you wanting much more.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Leg End,
Neither is it a straight-forward chronology in the style of The Beatles Anthology. It does not necessarily include all of George's best songs, it does not particularly show how his musical career progressed.
But it is a film about contradictions, dualities and spirituality. There are two parts to this film, and two separate worlds fighting against each other. In the first half we have George's upbringing, a well-painted picture of where George was from and his movement towards material success and wealth. It finishes at a pivot, where George discovers a path of spirituality which points the way towards the person he would like to become, that he has choice over creating.
Part 2 begins here, and follows George's path as he strips away his past life until, as Olivia puts it he is 'preparing himself for death'.
It is as if, at each end of this film, there are two opposing worlds which merge in the centre, and which become clearer the closer you are to them. How Scorsese does this is quite masterful but I think may go over the heads of many viewers who may be disappointed that the film is not what they expected.
I haven't seen anything like this before that I can remember, something which, so unashamedly conveys a spiritual journey through this sort of talking heads format, but the effect is profound. The claustrophobia and feeling of negation which is created in the Beatles section is particularly well done, as is the pacing of the second half which feels like a slow removal from 'life' and towards something personal, and individual.
I have knocked off a star for extras - which might seem a little harsh, but I am talking specifically about the box set. It would have been lovely to have more than 10 audio tracks I think and I am hopeful that there may be something more to come in the future - but it was a little disappointing. Equally the extras could have been a little more fleshed out too, though the presentation of the box is great, as are the book and the pictures.
So, in many ways this is a brave film and a refreshing one whilst the theme and message are the things which you will come back to and will, over time I think, be what is remembered about it in a few years time.
As I said, it is not a Rockumentary, but it is a story about someone's soul and what a person leaves behind them, in the material world, when they are gone.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Harrison - Living in the Material World,
This really is a very long film - part 1 is 94 mins and the second disc (with part 2 and bonus features) is 122 mins. However, it is so well put together and so interesting that you really feel it could be even longer. The film starts with George's time in Liverpool, but it is not exhaustively in order. Although the interviews generally cover things in biographical sequence - Liverpool, Hamburg, touring, etc, it does cut backwards and forwards. So, there are clips of the Beatles signing papers to break up the band during interviews covering earlier times, for example. Some of the clips with George appear to be from the Anthology interviews and had previously appeared in the Anthology. There is also some footage from the Anthology featuring Paul, George and Ringo looking at old photographs, which is very funny. A vast array of people were interviewed, including, of course, Paul and George. Also those involved with Handmade films, from George's passion with cars and racing and members of the Wilbury's. Phil Spector looks very nervous and twitchy, Eric Clapton is very interesting and Yoko is extremely gracious and generous in her comments, as always.
As a Beatle fan I have to say that Ringo is constantly entertaining and always manages to make you smile. His story of an early tour, where Paul had the car keys and George, having hopped behind the wheel of the car, was insisting he would drive made me almost cry with laughter. Just the way Ringo looked so resigned about this argument which went on for an hour and a half... It makes you realise how very young they all were and how well they all dealt with the enormous fame that hit them - as Eric Clapton comments, being with George was like being bathed in sunshine. The fame was so huge and the aura that surrounded them, even when they were unknown was recognisable. Their charisma carried them through so much and marked them as being special. Ringo also speaks about the last time he saw George, which is extremely moving.
All in all, this is a must buy for Beatle fans. From rare interviews with George's brothers (telling of how the Beatles insisted at playing at one of their weddings and John - of course John - tipped a glass of water over a woman playing the piano) to rare clips and some of the most beautiful music ever created. This is a very special film about a very special man. Buy, watch and enjoy.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Isn't It a Pity,
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Part One, Weak Part Two,
The first one is about George's life until about 1970, the final days of The Beatles.
The second, the years after.
The first disc was terrific. Great fun, full of the creative energy of the era it was talking about.
Well made. Great clips. Intelligent and interesting. A lot of post-Beatles, Beatles product, has to my mind, been disappointing (especially The Anthology of about 10 years ago) so I was really heartened by this. Excited, even.
The second disc could have been made by someone else. Not nearly enough emphasis on the music, and much too much time spent with George's friends droning on about how wonderful and quirky George was PLUS masses of Ravi Shankar and his sitar. I guess to some degree this was relevant as George was obviously very into his friends in later life, but it didn't make for very scintilating viewing. A documentary about one of the greatest musicians of all time should be more about the music. But the general view seemed to be that the post-Beatles George Harrison music wasn't worth much attention.
This is a documentary made in 2011 and the endless talking heads thing seems to be very fashionable in documentaires these days. I, personally, think they're a drag.
I'm still very pleased I bought this. I'll watch it again and probably again, but part two dragged down part one. I'd like to say to M. Scorcese, go back and make part two as well as you made part one. More footage, more music, edit the talking heads right down and you'll have something really, really good. Something worthy of the great and wonderful George Harrison.
Another strange thing was the measly extras. Just a few two and a half minute interviews with Paul and Jeff Lynne, I think and a couple of others. We deserve better than that and I think George deserves better than this, especially post-Beatles George.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So full of gaps! Is this really Scorsese?,
Re the missing music: there is nothing that George recorded between Dark Horse and The Traveling Wilburys. No 33 & 1/3, no All Those Years Ago, not even Cloud Nine (including the great videos of these records). Also: nothing from the pro-shot 1991 Japanese tour with Eric, from the Prince's Trust Concert, and neither from the Carl Perkins TV special.
It's true the documentary is 3 and a half hours long, but had it to be a one-piece film? George wanted an Anthology, like the Beatles' one, so why didn't they make a series of 7 or 8 episodes? They had plenty of material!
The other big absence is Patty's. In this respect, Olivia did quite a nasty job. Patty, the woman who shared the most significant part of George's life, the one who introduced him to the Indian spirituality, is reduced to some discussions about her infidelity. As for her presence in the film, there is a fragment of an old footage (quite insignificant) where she was a bit angry with the other three Beatles, and a paragraph from her (audio)book. Isn't that a shame!
How ironic this must be for Patty: after being forced to deal with the fans' nastiness in the 60's (and she was constantly physically and verbally abused), with all the humiliations coming from George (mainly his many infidelities inclusively with Ringo's first wife), as well as with George's public statement that Something was not about her (he could be such a gentleman sometimes, George), now she is refused her own past and history. By Olivia.
But how could the great Scorsese have no say in this matter and accept this flagrant gap? Go figure.
The movie has some highlights, hence the three stars: Ringo, Astrid, Klaus and (even) Paul give some emotional insights full of sincerity.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tribute,
This review is from: George Harrison - Living in the Material World [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)George Harrison's amazing life and work is well represented in this superb film by Martin Scorsese.
The footage is outstanding and so are the tributes from fellow musicians and friends alike, no more so than Ringo Starr's tearful nod to his old friend.
Anyone who is in anyway interested in music biographies should really watch this as George fitted so much into his career (even though he had a couple of periods of relative inactivity) although I felt they could have looked at the post 1974 era in a bit more depth but as a movie the whole thing works brilliantly.
Oh, and of course the music is outstanding....
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George Harrison - Living in the Material World [Blu-ray] by Martin Scorsese (Blu-ray - 2011)