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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Stuart Sutcliffe - The Lost Beatle'
(Horst Fascher, George Harrison, et al / DVD / NR / 2006 / Kultur Video)

Overview: At art college in Liverpool in 1959, Stuart Sutcliffe met John Lennon and they soon became close - with Lennon persuading Sutcliffe to use the proceeds of a painting he had sold to buy a bass guitar and join his band, along with Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Before long, with drummer Pete Best in the line-up, they won a contract in Hamburg playing sleazy clubs in the seedy Reeperbahn area of the city, amidst the casual sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of the era. The newly-christened Beatles were on their way. With the band on the brink of success, Sutcliffe left the group to concentrate on his first love, art, and his new love, German photographer Astrid Kirchherr. But Stuart's health soon began to decline. On the 10th of April 1962, Stuart suffered a seizure and slipped into a coma. As Astrid cradled his head in her hands, Stuart died of a cerebral hemorrhage, cutting short the life of the promising young artist.

DVD Verdict: This film about original Beatles member Stuart Sutcliffe was manna to a baby boomer Beatlemaniac like myself, who was 13 when Hard Day's Night was released. At that time the Beatles were much more than a top band; they WERE us, representing and leading all our creative urges, anti-establishment feelings, desire for something new, different, hip. And the imagery was (like much of the film's imagery) in black and white: the movie, Pop Weekly magazine, tv appearances, newspaper photos. Black Cuban-heeled boots, black narrow knitted ties, black polo neck sweaters, grey mohair suits. Stuart Sutcliffe's contribution to the Beatles was considerable. A highly talented artist and creator, he bolstered John's considerable imagination and lent an artsy, more sophisticated influence to what could otherwise have conceivably remnained just another garage band. It was Stuart who bonded with Hamburg hipsters Astrid and Klaus Voorman (who drew the cover of Revolver); the impact of this pair on the band was significant. There's a reason he's on the cover of Sgt. Pepper, unlike the unfortunate Pete Best. It was quite a treat to see Tony Sheridan - the celebrated bad influence and main attraction on the Beatles' first ever recording - looking very well, given his reputation at that time as a speed and alcohol maniac guitarist. Astrid herself of course is present, as well as Klaus Voorman, Allan Williams, their first manager, Horst Fascher, killer bouncer and Beatles protector at the Hamburg clubs, and other figures from that misty past. If you enjoyed the Beatles biography Shout - to my mind the best book written about them - you'll find the film enthralling. Also included, a very interesting gallery of Stuart's art, much of it from the Hamburg days, and VERY good. This is a Full Screen presentation (1.78:1) and comes with the Special Features of a Gallery of Stu Sutcliffe's Artwork.