I finally got a chance to watch Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison/Beatles documentary Living in the Material World this week. Like the rest of the Planet Earth I consider myself a Beatles fan and I think everyone knows the basic arc of Paul and John’s storylines but George was always a bit of a mystery. In fact, I was surprised to discover just how little I knew about him. Scorsese obviously took his time doing research and compiling footage for this project and it is filled with images, interviews and videos that have rarely been seen elsewhere. He also does a good job of staying out of the way and letting the subjects tell their own story, always the best strategy when you have the luxury of good footage. Harrison himself turns out to be an interesting character,  immensely talented with a quiet intensity and boundless curiosity. The Beatles functioned so well as a unit and the Lennon/McCartney partnership got so much attention that it was easy to overlook Harrison’s significant contribution to the band. His greatest personal achievement as a musician might have been his ability to take his spiritual education and translate it into pop music, a difficult and truly extraordinary talent. The doc is divided in two sections and is probably better viewed in separate sittings but I found it entertaining, insightful and even inspiring. Harrison and The Beatles experienced an unprecedented level of success but they never got lazy, working constantly to make music so influential that it still sounds great and completely relevant almost 50 years later. They were also extremely generous, helping countless people achieve their dreams and always tried to use their massive influence to make the world a better place. Scorsese and his team did an excellent job framing the unique legacy of the band and George Harrison as both an artist and person. Highly recommended.

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