NYFF Spotlight: George Harrison Living in the Material World

Film: George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Director: Martin Scorsese
Section: Main Slate
Tickets: Oct. 4

Why you should see it:
George Harrison was nicknamed the “quiet Beatle,” the most mysterious and reserved of the Fab Four. In George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Martin Scorsese takes an in-depth look at the spiritual life of Harrison, whose discovery of the sitar in the mid-1960’s led him to India and, eventually, to a life of devoted Hinduism.

The film includes rare archival footage from the Beatles’ early days performing in Liverpool, and intimate interviews with Olivia Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam of Monty Python, and many other luminaries, friends, and family members who were close to Harrison. In addition to exploring his strong personal philosophy and spiritualism, Living in the Material World covers the breadth of Harrison’s fascinating life: his beginnings with the Beatles and their musical evolution, the breakup of the band, the assassination attempt against him, and his death from throat cancer in 2001.

Track record:
George Harrison: Living in the Material World played at the San Sebastian and Telluride film festivals this year and will have its television premiere on HBO on October 5th and 6th (in two parts).

About the director:
Martin Scorsese, considered one of the world’s greatest living directors, needs little in the way of introduction. Renowned for directing now classic films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and more recently Shutter Island, The Aviator, and the Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Director, The Departed, he has also directed a number of critically lauded music documentaries. His last two concerned musical subjects of the same era and cultural movement: the Rolling Stones in Shine a Light and Bob Dylan in the exceptional No Direction Home.

What the critics are saying:
Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian: “It is a hugely involving event, which makes a serious, reasoned case for George Harrison as an authentically spiritual figure in pop music, a musician who, alone in the Beatles, and perhaps alone in 60s pop culture, genuinely cared about the life of the spirit and the nature of the transcendental.”

Todd McCarthy for The Hollywood Reporter: “It's a wonder how he does it, but somehow between making The Departed and Shutter Island and Boardwalk Empire and Hugo and all his assorted other projects, Martin Scorsese has found time to create another epic music documentary… Extraordinary footage from both the Beatles era and post-'60s period, along with revelatory, often beguiling commentary from a host of intimates and a treasure trove of musical delights, combine to create a personality portrait of welcome depth about a musical giant who often seemed to stand a bit in the shadows of his more exuberant peers."

What the NYFF programmers say:
"George Harrison: Living in the Material World is Martin Scorsese’s epic documentary about George Harrison. Its 3.5 hours with an intermission and spans the entirety of Harrison’s career. The first part focuses on his time with the Beatles and the second part focuses more on his solo career, and also his ventures into film producing and humanitarian efforts. It’s a very absorbing film with lots of very revealing interviews with Harrison’s wives (his ex-wife and his second wife), with Eric Clapton, with Paul McCartney, and many others. It has an incredible soundtrack with all of the songs remixed in digital surround sound. I can only imagine what it’s going to sound like in Alice Tully Hall." —Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director

Visit George Harrison's official website to watch the trailer and for other information about the film.

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