Martin Scorsese takes big risks in HBO's 'George Harrison'

I don't have time for a full review, but I do want to alert viewers to the premiere tonight on HBO of director Martin Scorsese's "George Harrison: Living in the Material World." This is one of the most ambitious and daring biographical films that I have ever seen on TV.

I am not a big Beatles fan. And of the Beatles, Harrison was my least favorite. But Scorsese helped me understand, appreciate and ultimately care more than I expected to for Harrison and the challenging journey the guitarist chose to make of his life.

Of course, Harrison could have just played music and lived off his fortune. Instead, he went looking for spiritual transendence, and Scorsese manages to communicate a bit of that transcendence in this film. That's impressive.

On the other hand, a warning: Don't sit down tonight looking for a linear, chronological, tightly- constructed trip through the life and times of George Harrison. Sit down understanding you are in the hands a of a great storyteller, and let the experience flow all over you. Scorsese, a self-acknowledged fan of Harrison, takes some wrong turns, indulges some of his own interests at the risk of narrative and almost seems to get lost in the film himself at times. But the experience is ultimately worth it.

Even if you are not as deeply affected as I was by the two-night documentary that premieres at 9 tonight, you will be moved both emotionally and intellectually by Harrison's life as it is captured in this HBO film.

Scorsese touches the bases of traditional documentary getting access and in-depth interviews with the like Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Phil Spector, George Martin, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty and the women with whom Harrison lived. He even gets Clapton to revisit in detail the pop-world-famous love both he and Harrison had for the same woman, and how that worked out.

"George Harrison: Living in the Material World" concludes at 9 p.m Thursday with multiple play dates through the month.


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