Friday, May 18, 2012

Living In The Material World

I can't think of any director other than Martin Scorsese who can do justice to George Harrison's personal and professional life on the big screen. It's just magical. He's done it before with Bob Dylan's early career in 2005's No Direction Home. This almost 3.5 hour film is divided into two parts; the first focusing on The Beatles and the second on George's solo career. The tale of his life is presented in fairly standard chronological order. As a student of this medium, I must say it is a very well-edited film even in its most traditional form of documentary. Scorsese and his team had overwhelming amounts of material (compiled over several years) to work with, and it wasn't just a matter of piecing stuff together, and leaving out what's not important to the narrative.....and a lot of things were left out. It was more of how do you tell a story that most of us already know and makes us leave the picture with a renewed frame of mind and essentially, a whole new attitude on life and how to live it. Ultimately that's how movies are supposed to make us feel.

The story of the Beatles is told mainly from George's perspective, through recent interviews with his bandmates, colleagues and close friends, in the process letting us in some lesser-known, revealing details about the man. It's engrossing, as there are lots of footage and pictures the public has not seen before. And it sets up nicely the meat of the film which is the second half. A lot of time is spent discussing George's spirituality, religious and world beliefs, which influenced everything he did (hence the apt movie title), and it takes its time; still shots linger for long periods; it makes the viewer think deep thoughts. It's the theme of imperfect divinity that permeates all through the film. The story gets more and more emotional as it progresses. There is a key scene in which George's wife, Olivia, talks about how he felt about John Lennon's death and how he himself spent most of his spiritual life coming to terms with his own mortality, something which will always stick with me. It's heartwarming to hear his family and friends describe him as a human being. We're all sad he's not with us anymore. As cliche as it may sound, I honestly think the world would've been a better place if he were still around today.


Beware of sadness
It can hit you, it can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more,
That is not what you are here for