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HBO Picks Up Scorsese's Spiritual Doc: George Harrison: Living in the Material World

by Jacob Combs
July 14, 2011 4:00 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

HBO has picked up Martin Scorsese's latest music documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World. The film will premiere in two parts on October 5 and 6.

Harrison is, of course, famous not only for his turn with the history-changing Beatles but also the solo work he put out during the 1970s, starting with the album "All Things Must Pass," which was enthusiastically received by both audiences and critics alike. He wrote and performed several of the most enduring Beatles songs, from Here Comes the Sun and Something in the Way She Moves (clips below) to While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Even though Scorsese's film takes it subtitle from the name of his 1973 album, the pic will look at Harrison's life in its entirety, including his time before, with, and after the Beatles. Like the album, however, one of the film's central themes will be Harrison's lifelong interest in spirituality, especially his later belief in Hinduism.

Scorsese, who has been developing the film with Harrison's widow Olivia, has had the project in the works for three years, even as he released the thriller Shutter Island. Olivia Harrison faced a flood of documentary requests when her husband died of cancer in 2001, which she pushed back against due to his desire to make a self-documentary using his own video archives. Harrison carefully saved his personal music and video, most of which will be shown publicly for the first time in Scorsese's film.

Harrison's wife trusted Scorsese with the project based on his previous music documentaries: 2008 Rolling Stones film Shine a Light and 2005's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. Both films, like the Harrison doc, were edited by David Tedeschi.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World will include interviews with musicians like Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Tom Petty. Along with the documentary's debut, Abrams Books will also release a book of the same title by Olivia Harrison with photographs, letters and other personal materials from her husband's life.

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