Concert For George

2003, Movie, PG-13, 96 mins


"I'd like to be remembered in this way," says guitar god Eric Clapton. "A bunch of people that I loved playing songs." Clapton was the music director for a memorial concert in celebration of former-Beatles bass player George Harrison's life; David Leland's documentary records the event, which was held at London's Royal Albert Hall on Nov. 29, 2002. A mix of performance footage, interviews and behind-the-scenes material, the film features, among others, surviving Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney; Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (two of Harrison's Traveling Wilburys bandmates); pioneering Brit-rocker Joe Brown, whose band opened for the Beatles in the early years; Billy Preston and Harrison's son, Dhani, who bears a striking resemblance to his father. They cover songs that span Harrison's career, including "If I Needed Someone," "Taxman," "Handle with Care," "Photograph," "Here Comes the Sun," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "My Sweet Lord," "Give Me Love," "Isn't It a Pity" and "Something." Harrison's Handmade Films produced several Monty Python-related projects, so Python alumni Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle (with Neil Innes, who wrote the Beatles song parodies for the Python spin-off project THE RUTLES: ALL YOU NEED IS CASH), do the troupe's "Lumberjack Song"; Tom Hanks appears briefly as a member of the Royal Canadian Mountie chorus. The ex-Pythons also perform the rude "Sit on My Face" dressed as singing waiters, then turn to reveal that they're pantless beneath their aprons. Harrison's spiritual mentor, musician Ravi Shankar — who refers to Harrison as his son — composed "Arpan" ("Offering") for the memorial; the piece is performed by an orchestra of Indian and Western musicians and conducted by Shankar's daughter, Anoushka. Anyone who remembers Harrison fondly will enjoy this musical tribute, though it assumes a level of familiarity with Harrison's associates that not all viewers will have. It would be have been helpful if the filmmakers had identified the performers/interviewees, rather than relying on on-stage introductions and between-song patter to reveal their identities. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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Concert For George
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