Disappointing...and actually very depressing.
A reader | 02/16/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"On the back of this DVD's packaging it reads "Beautiful Stranger is a film that traces the entire life of George Harrison, from the day he was born until the day he died." That's quite a claim; I wish the DVD inside had lived up to it. What it really covers is a few of the broadest themes of his life from his childhood up until about 1967, and then about the last two years of his life. I will tell you right now what the video reveals:
As a child, George was compassionate but mischievous, and though he was very bright he detested school. (Not all that surprising, since one of the few new factoids I got from this DVD was that at least one of his teachers was in the habit of hitting him with a shoe. I could've happily lived and died without hearing quite so many vivid descriptions of discipline in a 1950s British elite boys' school.)
George was very spiritually minded and charitable, but also a shrewd businessman out of necessity.
George was not as esteemed a member of the Beatles as John Lennon and Paul McCartney but was an integral part of the group as time went on.
George was attacked just before the turn of the century, and died of cancer about two years later.
Anyone who has read so much as one quality book or seen one decent program on George's life or anything about the Beatles already knows all of this. Meanwhile it leaves completely untouched the huge expanse of time that I think most die-hard fans of George are hoping to tap into when picking up this DVD - namely something about the 32 or so years between the Beatles' time in India and the night George was attacked in his home. He had a whole career and family life during that time, and arguably did his best work both as a musician and a human being during that period. Would it have been so incredibly hard to spend a half hour documenting his solo career? Throw in something about his family, perhaps? How much he loved restoring Friar Park? His enjoyment of Formula One racing? His collection of Hawaiian shirts? Come on, now, if you can't even make mention of the album "All Things Must Pass" or the ground-breaking Concert for Bangladesh, you've no business claiming that your DVD "traces the entire life of George Harrison"!
As if this weren't bad enough, there is absolutely no Beatles or George Harrison music and very little live footage of George. The video also has a maddening habit of going back and forth in time just for the sake of stringing together some smaller narratives, like the fact that Brian Epstein died just before he was supposed to join the Beatles in India. A story of George smoking as a teenager suddenly launches the viewer forward in time by over forty years to underline the early roots of his death from cancer.
This has obviously struck quite a nerve with me. I'm not normally one to rant like this but I really feel the producers of this film took advantage of my thirst to celebrate George Harrison's life. I'm a huge fan of George's, have been since I was 14, he was one of the greatest joys and inspirations of my young life, and I miss him terribly...this was such a distant, grim portrayal of such a brilliant man...it brought back the pain of missing him more so than the joy of his life. I have to say, if you really love George Harrison...do NOT buy this DVD. Try reading "I Me Mine" or "Here Comes the Sun," or for something faster maybe Geoffrey Juliano's book about George. You'll be happier that way...in fact I think I'm going to dive into one of those right now to lift my spirits after seeing this video."