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TV Tonight: George Harrison: Living in the Material World

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Elsewhere at time.com, TIME film critic Richard Corliss reviews Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, which airs in two parts on HBO tonight and tomorrow:

The “quiet Beatle” — the one who told an interviewer, “I’m even more normal than normal people” — was also the nicest Beatle: the most thoughtful and generous, the salver of wounds, forgiver of sins. That is the immediate and lingering message of George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Martin Scorsese’s two-part, 3-1/2hr. documentary that premieres on HBO tonight and tomorrow, and will be repeated about a thousand times this month. A companion of sorts to Scorsese’s 2005 Bob Dylan: No Direction Home — another bio-pic about a singer-songwriter-guitarist who commenced upending musical convention before he was 20 — the Harrison doc has the stately, elegiac tone suitable to an engaging personality who died early, of lung cancer at 58 in 2001. Except for the ill-chosen title, which will force Madonna’s “Material Girl” into the mental iTunes of anyone over 35, Material World is a fitting, sonorous tribute to the pop idol, movie producer, spiritual searcher and constant gardener.

I’ll only add that I’ve seen the film, and I had my doubts that anyone could make another retelling of The Beatles’ story interesting at this point. Scorsese has. Of course, the film also deals (mainly in its second half) with Harrison’s post-Beatle life and career, but the first half was like seeing a familiar film recut with alternate camera shots, told from the perspective of Harrison and not the oft-seen ones of Lennon and McCartney. Perhaps all things must pass, but I would not pass this one up.

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