In 2002, a year after the Beatles’ lead guitarist George Harrison’s death, his wife Olivia Harrison and friend Eric Clapton organized a concert in his name. The concert was filmed, and in honor of Harrison’s 75th birthday, the resulting film, “Concert for George,” will be shown in theaters for the first time in select locations around the country.
London’s Royal Albert Hall held the concert on Nov. 29, 2002, and it featured a dazzling lineup of performers including Clapton himself, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jools Holland, Jeff Lynne, Joe Brown, Dhani Harrison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ray Cooper, Sam Brown, Billy Preston, Mounties, as well as Anoushka and Ravi Shankar. For the film’s reissue — it was originally released on DVD in 2003 — it has been remastered in 5.1 surround sound.
Each performer honored Harrison in a unique way and brought their own energy to his songs. The artists’ personal memories with Harrison seemed to make their way into every number.
Harrison’s portrait, which hung in the background, not only emanated a stunning visual effect, but also invoked his presence. Even Shankar remarked, “Dear friends, I strongly believe George is here tonight.”
Directed by David Leland, the film is shot in a unique way. Even when the camera zooms in on the performers, the background remains in of focus.
Several shots highlight the audience with their heads bobbing and hands clapping with excitement and energy. The film also shows a bird’s-eye view of the concert hall several times as if to imply how Harrison’s memory engulfs everyone. The camera focuses on each musician on stage which successfully captures the energy of the concert throughout the film.
Small behind-the-scenes snippets of the musicians showcase how intimately and passionately the performers worked to honor Harrison. Each performer was remarkably different from the rest, and they all brought their own distinct flavour to the concert. Their collective remembrance of Harrison was undoubtedly heartfelt.
“Concert for George” opens at Village East Cinema on Feb. 28.
Email Devanshi Khetarpal at [email protected]