4 October 2011 | Lejink
Life of George
Of course you'd have to be a fan to really appreciate Martin Scorcese's extensive re- telling of the life and times of George Harrison but I am and so I presume was everyone at the sold out screening of the movie tonight at the Glasgow Film Theatre. More assembled than directed of course, Scorcese takes us through the highs and occasional lows of the man's life without signposting anything too obviously so that the near four-hour viewing time rarely drags (it was broken by a half-hour intermission at the showing I attended) and I found myself rapt with attention.
The film starts with a typically humorous, modest and elusive appearance by George seen between the flowers in his massive garden at Friar's Park, which mansion features so extensively in the footage shown that it should almost get a credit too. From there, Scorcese takes us on a linear journey dwelling on the major events in his life without markedly signposting the passage of time at any point, which I think helped the flow of the film. There was much archive photography and video footage which even a die-hard like me hadn't seen before, and the interviewees are well chosen and well edited, although I was surprised that say, Jeff Lynne or Michael Palin didn't get a look-in, although maybe Marty thought re. the latter that the presence of two other Pythons (Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam) was enough. The best of the interviewees are probably Gillam, Ringo and George's widow while the resemblance to his son Dhani is quite uncanny. The shock appearance of a now incarcerated Phil Spector, looking ridiculous in his "wig of the day" is controversial and prompted gales of laughter amongst the Glasgow crowd but he's actually surprisingly lucid. Yes perhaps Scorcese dwells too much on the Beatles time and omits his output from 1973 to 1988 almost totally - it was a mistake surely to not mark the sequence on Lennon's murder without playing even a snatch of "All Those Years Ago" and likewise to make no reference at all to his comeback hit single "Got My Mind Set On You" and parent album "Cloud Nine". Even so, while some may argue as to whether Harrison's own legacy deserves this Scorcese tribute in the wake of the great director's other recent homages to Dylan and the Stones, the fact that the audience I was among thought enough of what they had watched to spontaneously applaud at the end tells its own story, I think. As we near the tenth anniversary of his untimely death, I certainly enjoyed the movie and left convinced that George was a decent, not perfect man who while he may he have been the third most talented of the four Beatles, was more than worthy of this sincere and entertaining tribute.