Paul Theroux on Harrison and Scorsese

As interest grows around the release this week of the new Martin Scorsese documentary on the life of George Harrison, much is being written about the documentary and it’s importance.

Many will know and respect the work of US travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux. He has written a lengthy but insightful piece for The Daily Beast on “Living in the Material World”. It carries the title “The Sixth Beatle?” and contains the byline “George Harrison was liberated by rock and roll. Turns out Martin Scorsese was too”.

Theroux postulates that the two men, the musician and the film-maker, have more in common than might first appear:

“He had everything so young—everything was possible. He was struggling for his own creativity—for his creativity to be recognized,” Scorsese said. “But he wouldn’t have been able to create All Things Must Pass had he not gone through the relationship—the family relationship of the Beatles. That’s what you pay. That’s the price you pay.”

Scorsese’s solemn tone suggested that he could relate to George’s ups and downs. George’s Dark Horse tour was savaged, in the way that some of Scorsese’s greatest films were initially greeted with bewilderment and scorn.

Scorsese agreed, saying, “In my own work I was in those areas not once but many times—coming up against a brick wall. I thought Raging Bull was the last picture I was ever going to make. A number of times I was that way, flattened out, and coming back. As George’s story developed there was no way I couldn’t relate to it in my own life.”

There are two other articles I’d recommend, both from the New York Times. The first is a revealing interview with Olivia Harrison about the project. The second is a feature by David Itzkoff about George and the documentary.

Worth a look.

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