The artist al­most known as a Fab

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IT’S with a groan­ing sense of obli­ga­tion that those of us who came to con­scious­ness on a diet of solid Bea­tles, es­pe­cially those who picked up an in­stru­ment and learned to play it be­cause of them, will tune in tonight. Groan­ing be­cause, like the on­go­ing creative out­put of what’s left of the group, the law of di­min­ish­ing re­turns ap­plies. Ev­ery time you see or hear them, there is less sat­is­fac­tion. Ev­ery last gram of flesh has been cut from the corpse. Ev­ery word spo­ken, ev­ery song sung, ev­ery bed- in, lovein, cash- in and rake- in has been an­a­lysed and the­o­rised to within a shard of its ex­is­tence. We’ve moved on. But what if you could go back to those days when turn­ing ev­ery page of some­thing such as Hunter Davies’s 1968 bi­og­ra­phy The Bea­tles was a rev­e­la­tion? Would that be se­duc­tive enough to make you want to look again? The book hyp­no­tised us with its tales of the group form­ing as likely lads, of a seem­ingly myth­i­cal Liver­pool joint called the Cav­ern, of Ge­orge Har­ri­son be­ing de­ported for be­ing un­der­age from the sex and am­phet­a­mine mad­ness of Ham­burg and es­pe­cially of the car­a­van of lost souls who played for a while or oth­er­wise nearly made it into the band, such as Pete Best, Klaus Voor­man and Stu Sut­cliffe. This doc­u­men­tary takes you there.

Sut­cliffe was more than an oc­ca­sional fill- in or a drum­mer ( Best) dumped be­cause he couldn’t drum. He was a kind of male muse for John Len­non in par­tic­u­lar and the two were so close in the Ham­burg days there were ru­mours of a phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship. Sut­cliffe was a gifted painter, torn be­tween that call­ing and his love of rock ’ n’ roll and be­ing a Bea­tle. But when he met Astrid Kirch­herr, an­other artist and an in­flu­ence on the look and style of the band be­fore it was Ep­stein- ed and an­o­dyned, it was all over.

Sut­cliffe’s stun­ning art­works are in ev­i­dence through­out the film. His pres­ence is strong, and this is aided by words from his let­ters and note­books read aloud by a Scouse ac­tor.

Sut­cliffe died of a cere­bral haem­or­rhage at 22, leav­ing be­hind a vast body of art. Kirch­herr, the main in­ter­vie­wee in this film, dis­misses the ru­mours that his con­di­tion was caused by a vi­cious kick to the head from Len­non.

‘‘ John would never have raised a hand to Stu,’’ she says, and you can al­most be­lieve her.

The Bea­tles ap­pear only in archival footage, and for that many will be grate­ful. It’s a jour­ney back in time that es­chews the fa­mil­iar to pro­file a mys­ti­cal friend­ship that might have changed the world.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

A match made in Ham­burg: Stu Sut­cliffe and Astrid Kirch­herr

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.