DUBAI: She has been described as the woman who taught Mick Jagger how to dance, the Lioness and the Queen of Rock & Roll. We are talking about the legendary Tina Turner, whose fascinating life and 50-year-long career is told in the new HBO documentary, “Tina.”
Tina (who was born Anna Mae Bullock) is widely revered for her contagiously robust presence on stage, with her slick dance moves and her throaty, wild voice which sends chills down the spine. But, as this gripping two-hour film shows, there was darkness beneath the glamor — family neglect, domestic violence, and a struggle to start all over again.
Directors Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin kick off the documentary by jumping right into the star’s defining relationship with her ex-husband, musician Ike Turner. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue — the couple’s long-running series of one-night shows across the US — became hugely popular in the Sixties and Seventies. But despite the double-billing it was Tina who was the true star, a fact that Ike was increasingly unhappy about.
He became controlling, insecure and abusive, giving Tina a black eye and a broken jaw. In the 1970s, she bravely walked away from him, with no money or property of her own.
Aside from including a wealth of old footage and snippets of audio clips, Tina’s up-and-down experiences are retold in recent, in-depth interviews with the now-retired star, and with her former back-up singers and music producers. Oprah Winfrey and Angela Bassett, who was cast as Tina in a 1990s biopic, make an appearance too.
The film also explores how challenging it was for Tina to reinvent herself as a solo artist in her forties, when she felt truly independent for the first time. “It wasn’t a comeback… Tina had never arrived,” she says of her debut solo album, 1984’s “Private Dancer”. It was even harder separating herself from her traumatic past as the press kept hounding her about it. She eventually found greater success, both personally and professionally, in Europe rather than at home in America.
“Tina” includes some surprising anecdotes from the star’s career; for instance, she admits that she initially hated what would become one of her biggest hits from the 1980s, “What's Love Got to Do with It,” thinking that it was too pop-oriented.
From the girl who picked cotton in the fields to the superstar who packed arenas, Tina Turner made history. This is a documentary that reminds us just how great an artist she was. It’s a film full of emotion and soul that will get your eyes tearing up and your feet tapping.