Announced at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Martin Scorsese is directing the documentary “George Harrison: Living In The Material World” about the life of former Beatles member.
Martin Scorsese has been working with Olivia Harrison, George Harrison‘ second wife for the last 2 years on the film, which will look at George Harrison’s entire life.
The film will feature previously unreleased footage and photos as well as unreleased recordings that the guitarist saved.
Olivia Harrison, one of the film’s producers, has spent years going through her husband’s tapes, notes and photos to deliver essential elements for the film.
“Marty had a connection with George, and they spent some time together. He is as passionate about film and music as George was passionate about music and film,” she said.
It was surely not the intention of the documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World to depict the Beatle as the prime mover in a sexual free-for-all.
But, driven by a desire to show the so‑called “quiet Beatle” in both “light and shade”, it portrays him as a sensitive, spiritual man with serious weaknesses when it came to women.
The documentary runs for 3 1/2 hours and is in two parts.
The film has just premiered at the Telluride documentary festival in America, and will be shown in its entirety on the BBC on October this year.
Film presented nights of chaos and excess at Friar Park, George Harrison’s immense Victorian Gothic home in Henley, with a haze of dope, cocaine and alcohol.
In a 1973 night, George Harrison’s friend and houseguest Ronnie Wood took him aside and told him that he intended to sleep with the former Beatle’s wife Pattie Boyd that evening.
George Harrison’s response was to point to the room which Ronnie Wood was sharing with his wife Krissie and say: “And I shall be sleeping there.”
There was a moment on the landing when the two men looked at each other, on the threshold of the two bedrooms, and then they both went in.
Ronnie Wood slept with Pattie, and George Harrison slept with the Rolling Stone’s wife – and even took her off to Spain to meet Salvador Dali a few weeks later, which Wood found amusing.
In the same period, George Harrison also slept with Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen, having announced during a dinner party – and in front of Pattie – that he wanted her.
Both Ringo Starr and Pattie Boyd were greatly distressed, and Pattie in particular became annoyed by Maureen’s habit of turning up late at night and spending the evening in meditation with George, or locking herself away in a studio with him.
In turn, Pattie Boyd slept with Eric Clapton and eventually left George Harrison for Clapton in 1974.
In an interview, given for the upcoming documentary film about George Harrison’s life, his close friend Eric Clapton recalls that Harrison was “very cavalier” about the affair with Pattie, and almost gave him “carte blanche” to have sex with her.
“To be honest, there was a lot of swapping and fooling around,” Clapton said.
But Pattie Boyd recalls: “That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. We were all as drunk, stoned and single-minded as each other.”
In the documentary, Olivia Harrison tells of “hiccups” in their marriage when her husband had affairs, even long after those crazy days of the early 1970s with Pattie were over.
Olivia and George Harrison were married in 1978, a month after the birth of their son Dhani, and she was at his bedside when he died of cancer in 2001.
Between those times, Olivia suggests that her husband had several affairs, which she endured, simply waiting for them to pass and forgiving him when they did.
“He liked women and women liked him,” Olivia says.
“If he just said a couple of words to you, it would have a profound effect. It was hard to deal with someone who was so well loved.”
Paul McCartney says: “I don’t want to say much because he was a pal, but he liked the things that men like. He was red-blooded.”
Red-blooded seems an understatement when it comes to George Harrison, who had an abiding fondness for other men’s wives – much like his devotion to marijuana and sitar music.
According to Beatles expert Bill Harry “George had hundreds and hundreds of affairs. John Lennon was probably the most highly-sexed Beatle, but I would put George next after him.”
And in their tell-all book The Love You Make, two Beatles roadies, Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, assert: “He wanted to seduce every woman he laid eyes on.”
Rather extraordinarily, more than one source suspects that George Harrison had a heavy flirtation with Madonna on the set of the 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, despite the presence of her first husband Sean Penn.
Madonna was at the time deeply unhappy with Sean Penn, and said she found George Harrison, who was executive producer of the film, “very understanding and sympathetic”.
George Harrison came to see them filming in Macau, and also met her several times in London before and after the production.
Madonna’s brother, Christopher Ciccone, noted that, although George Harrison felt moved to “read the riot act” to Sean Penn over his hostile and aggressive attitude during filming and gave the actor a stern ticking-off, he treated Madonna with “kid gloves”.
A few weeks after filming finished, he surprised everyone present at a press conference by going on the attack over allegations that Madonna had been impossible to work with, passionately denouncing the assembled journalists as “animals”.
Those who worked with George Harrison at Handmade Films, where he oversaw numerous projects in the 1980s, recall that one close relationship with a young member of the team was very much the talk of the office.
“The story was widely circulated around the film business that he was having an affair with an office junior,” said a source.
It’s all rather extraordinary as, until now, it has always been thought that George Harrison’s love story with Olivia Arias was one of complete spiritual and emotional union.
Olivia, a young woman of Mexican descent, was working as a secretary for the Dark Horse Records label in America when she struck up a telephone friendship with George Harrison, who was recording music for it.
Olivia and George finally encountered each other in person at a party in Los Angeles in 1974. She was a stunning 23-year-old, and he was lonely after the loss of Pattie Boyd a few months previously to Eric Clapton.
Like George Harrison, whose father was a bus driver, Olivia Arias came from a working-class family – her mother was a seamstress, her father, a dry-cleaner.
George Harrison quickly asked Olivia to move into Friar Park with him, so she relocated to England. At first, she found the house lonely, but although Friar Park was so enormous that Pattie Boyd used to complain she could never find her husband, the charismatic George Harrison filled it with friends.
“He was so generous and open, so much more patient with people than me,” Olivia told an interviewer.
“He took everybody along with him, like a driftnet fisherman.
“If we were going on holiday, everybody would come. If we were having dinner, everybody was welcome. He was Pisces, so he swam in a school.”
One of Olivia and George most significant acts was to visit India together in 1976.
That helped George Harrison to continue his spiritual journey which had begun in 1968 with a visit to meditate with the Indian yoga guru Maharishi with the other Beatles.
In 1969, he even gave up all alcohol, drugs and sex for six months, in search of enlightenment.
Unlike his other band members, George Harrison remained committed to the religious sect Hare Krishna, and Olivia shared his commitment.
There was a real sense in which their married life was a retreat. Harrison concentrated on the enormous task of renovating the house and tending the gardens.
George Harrison became passionate about horticulture. To live invisible to the throng behind high walls was a release after the pressure of being a Beatle.
George Harrison first developed cancer in 1997, but the lump in his neck was removed and he underwent radiotherapy.
In 2001, however, it was discovered he had lung cancer, and soon after a brain tumour was also found. Within seven months he had died, with Olivia and his son Dhani by his side.
Olivia tells the documentary that George Harrison had achieved his spiritual goal, which was to take conscious leave of his life and to be ready to go. And, by the end, she says she had forgiven him completely for his affairs.