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George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Music | 4 October 2011 (UK)
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese examines the life of musician George Harrison, weaving together interviews, concert footage, home movies and photographs.



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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Louise Harrison ...
Harold Harrison ...
Harry Harrison ...
Peter Harrison ...
Herself (wife)
Himself (son)
Pete Best ...
Himself (archive footage)
Cynthia Lennon ...
Herself (archive footage) (as Cynthia Powell)
Himself (archive footage)


George Harrison first became known to the world as "The Quiet Beatle" of the Fab Four, but there was far more to his life than simply being a part of The Beatles. This film explores the life and career of this seminal musician, philanthropist, film producer and amateur race car driver who grew to make his own mark on the world. Through his music, archival footage and the memories of friends and family, Harrison's deep spirituality and humanity are explored in his singular life as he took on artistic challenges and important causes as only he could. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

4 October 2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

George Harrison  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


| (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The man in the audience at the David Frost show who argues with George about meditation is lawyer/author John Mortimer, creator of "Rumpole of the Bailey." See more »


Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.12 (2011) See more »


Savoy Truffle
Written by George Harrison
Performed by The Beatles
See more »

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User Reviews

8 October 2011 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

Let me state this from the off: I've got a lot of respect for Martin Scorsese. And I'm a big George Harrison fan.

But I was so bored of this documentary that I had to leave it an hour and a half through.

The biggest problem? There was no narrative. No flow. You're given no over-arching journey or picture at all, and no purpose or drive to what unfolds. It was assumed you knew the story anyway, and so it was simply ignored (I can't imagine how confusing someone unfamiliar with the Beatles would've found the section about Astrid Kirchherr and their Hamburg days. Even to fans like myself, it was told in a way that was insubstantial and unclear) (That you're told Stuart Sutcliffe's death was difficult before you've even been introduced to him or told his relation to anyone else is one example of this).

The story was told in isolated blocks - ten minutes of George and the Beatles coping with screaming fans and hotel rooms. Followed by ten minutes of them entering the studio. - and it didn't work. Not only did it disconnect things that were actually intimately entwined, but it removed any sense of development. Things were presented in a roughly chronological way, but not such that any of it felt meaningful. "This, and then This" rather than "This, and therefore This".

It was as though someone had made two checklists, one of "Events" and the other of "Footage", and they just indiscriminately filed all of the latter into the arbitrary structure of the former.

Some of the cuts also stood out (never a good sign for a cut anyway) as really poorly done - music stopping abruptly as we cut to a talking head, or a scene with an older George inexplicably squashed in amongst something utterly different (Did it cast those shots in a different light? Reframe the meaning, recast the subject? No.)

Another real disappointment was the failure of the documentary to convey any atmosphere, sense of place or sense of character. Who was George Harrison? What were his relationships like? Nothing came across. Or how about the places and the mood of their existence, be it in hotels, or the studio, or during his childhood or in India or...again, the documentary was empty, vacant, frustrating. This was partly due to the talking heads, who didn't offer any insights or anecdotes beyond their own self-importance (Eric Clapton calling himself a "lone wolf" was inadvertently hilarious though), but also due to the disconnected, inexpressive editing.

My overriding thought throughout was "Man, this is really poorly done". I didn't expect that, I was entering this film full of excitement. But after an hour and a half of time and again catching myself saying it, I decided enough was enough. A real disappointment; one of the messiest, dullest, directionless documentaries I've seen in a long time. The subject matter deserves a much better, more sensitive, meaningful treatment.

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