George Harrison is no longer Living in the Material World and hasn't been for getting on to sixteen years now. He's the subject of a very long documentary by that name from Martin Scorsese, released in 2011 and made with the co-operation of Harrison's close family and friends. It's almost three and half hours long but Harrison is well worthy of lengthy scrutiny as he's a figure that represents a particular set of values and attitudes that's quite unique in the history of Rock & Roll.
Initially 'the quiet one' in The Beatles and the lead guitarist responsible for neat, indispensable but hardly genius embellishments to their records and live performances, he began to come out and establish a greater role for himself from the moment that he, Lennon and their partners first tried LSD together and began to explore the inner self for greater and more lasting meaning than the Beatles fame bubble had allowed them.
The film documents his life pretty much chronologically, pausing at all the landmark moments you'd expect if you have anything more than a passing familiarity with this particular story. Harrison goes from being a slightly surly traveller in the early days of Beatlemania, the member of the band who clearly enjoyed it all least of all, to a sage, thoughtful seeker, albeit one who wore some of the worst clothes, haircuts and moustaches of the entire seventies.
Living in the Material World honours Harrison and you can't help but feel that he would have appreciated it, because it pays its respects to his intelligence, his humour, his inner toughness to everything the world had to throw at him and the questions he asked of himself and everyone else throughout his life. It's no surprise really, given that Scorsese has been a similar quester for deeper truth and meaning throughout his own creative life. It's only natural that he's drawn to Harrison.
Everybody is there to comment that you'd expect: brothers, Beatles, Astrid and Klaus, George Martin, Clapton, Patti and Olivia, Pythons, Jackie Stewart and Dhani and there's a reverence love and humour for the man from each and every one of them. The film doesn't skirt around the moments when he's less than saintly, he's sometimes tetchy and irritable but constantly seeking peace. The film is decorated and commented on by Harrison's exceptional music both with and after The Beatles and is a resonant document, entertainment first and foremost but also posing the deepest imaginable questions about this life that we're living and the moment that's waiting for us all when we come to leave it all behind.