Concert for Bangladesh (1972)

“It just happens to be Pakistan now, as far as I can see — it happens to be that which we’re doing the benefit for. It’s a particularly bad situation there, but it does happen all the time — this is happening everywhere.”

Synopsis:
Ravi Shankar and George Harrison host a concert at Madison Square Garden on behalf of refugees from Bangladesh, with appearances by Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, and others.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “fine rock-concert film which many people forget exists” — likely because it’s so hard to find these days! — “documents the twin benefit concerts held on August 1, 1971, for the the United Nations Children’s Fund for the Relief to the Refugee Children of Bangladesh”, which was the idea of “the Beatles’ George Harrison and Indian musician Ravi Shankar”. Peary asserts that “watching it on home video is quite suitable”, especially since “that way you can fast-forward through Shankar’s opening set” (!!!) — a sentiment I’m in complete disagreement with; Shankar’s perforance is my favorite portion of the concert. Peary argues that Harrison, who “sings several Beatles songs and his biggest solo hits”, “has charisma as a solo performer”, and that “certainly the highlight is the appearance of Bob Dylan, who does several solos and an exciting chorus with Harrison and [Leon] Russell”. Again, I’m not in agreement with Peary’s assessment of Dylan, though it’s fun regardless to see so many big-name musicians of the era up on stage performing together. This remains a fairly straightforward concert film, without much fanfare or post-production work; its primary claim to fame is being the first such large-scale concert held to raise money for, and awareness of, global human rights issues.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ravi Shankar’s opening raga
  • George Harrison’s quietly charismatic presence
  • A fine example of diverse artists coming together to make music for a worthy cause

Must See?
No, but it’s certainly worth a look for historical purposes if you can find a copy.

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One Response to “Concert for Bangladesh (1972)”

  1. Agreed, not must-see unless you happen to be particular fans of the performers.

    I recall seeing this concert film when I was living in Japan. I don’t generally put filmed stand-up comedy or filmed concerts (unless they have a larger scope or purpose, like ‘Woodstock’) in the same category as documentaries or films. They are, instead, more clearly for those who like the comics or musicians involved.

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