Arts & Entertainment

Documentary examines tumultuous life of music icon Tina Turner

By David Villafranca

Los Angeles, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- A critically acclaimed documentary that will air Saturday on HBO looks at the turbulent career of multi-Grammy-winning, American-born recording artist Tina Turner, who was known in her prime for her charismatic and dynamic stage presence but has shied away from the public eye in recent years.

“I think Tina Turner the icon is the combination of what she’s capable of doing on stage and how she makes us feel through her music, combined with the narrative, the story of Tina Turner,” T.J. Martin, who co-directed the documentary along with Dan Lindsay, told Efe.

“Tina,” which had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in early March, shows archival footage of the electrifying performances that made her the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll” and delves into the physical and psychological abuse she suffered at the hands of her former husband and musical mentor, the late Ike Turner (1931-2007).

The documentary also is notable for the new interviews the filmmakers obtained with the 81-year-old American music legend, who now lives in Switzerland with current husband, German music executive Erwin Bach, and has stayed out of the limelight since retiring in 2009.

Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock in Brownsville, Tennessee, burst on the scene in 1960 with the hit Ike & Tina Turner song “A Fool in Love,” a gospel and blues number made unique by Tina’s raspy voice and punctuating screams.

“I think she was doing things in an era where, specifically with women in entertainment, hadn’t been seen before and hadn’t been done before, not because she knew she was pioneering it but because that was her natural way of expressing the gift she had,” Martin said.

“I think that that uniqueness, combined with just some crazy energy that I think to this day no one understands where that comes from … carved out a totally unique space for herself as a performer,” he added.

Beyond her talent though, Turner told the filmmakers that she wanted viewers to appreciate how physically exerting her stage performances were.

“One of the things oddly enough that she said early on was she was very proud of the fact of the sweat that you saw. And she was like, ‘you know, I never had a towel on stage. I want to show all the work,'” Lindsay recalled.

Tina Turner’s career in the 1960s and 1970s was intimately linked to Ike Turner, an early rock and roll pioneer whom she first met at a club in St. Louis where his band – Kings of Rhythm – would frequently perform.

But in an interview in People magazine in 1981 (three years after their divorce was finalized and a few years before she embarked on a wildly successful solo career), Turner revealed that behind the dancing and smiles and their on-stage chemistry she had suffered years of domestic abuse.

“The film intentionally or unintentionally shows you the long-term effects of what trauma can do,” Martin said, adding that although Turner is now a symbol of strength and resilience and thought of as “almost superhuman,” she is still “in a very fragile space at 80 years old processing her abusive past.” EFE-EPA


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