December 2, 2020 The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Documentary Review)
Let’s face it, The Bee Gees are one of those bands that do not get nearly as much respect as they deserve. A fascinating topic of conversation, let us also not forget this is a historic band that are one of the best-selling music acts of all time. Which leads you to ask a burning question: How in the world can an act that has sold multimillions of records, been on the top of the Billboard charts many times, and set the standard for Dance music in the late ’70s, be considered under-appreciated? Well, again, it is a compelling case study, and that is why it is worth checking out the new documentary film The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.
Directed by Frank Marshall (Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981, Arachnophobia 1990), the film, which debuts on HBO and HBO Max on December 12th, runs for nearly 2 hours, covering a mass of content in that time. Now, we all know about the larger than life Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and film from 1977 that shook the entertainment world. But more astute listeners are aware of the band’s early work, more akin to The Beatles, though even less have the knowledge that The Bee Gees penned an abundant amount of hits songs for others. However, how many of us really have known all these sides of The Bee Gees’ prism, combined with an understanding of the individuals themselves? The answer is very few.
Stimulating your mind with these factors, like any documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart starts at the beginning before carefully moving along the timeline of the band’s early years, success in the mid to late ’60s, before their artistic shift during the ’70s. That said, what truly makes The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart a bit different than other musical documentaries is that it plays out like a distant dream from the mind of the band’s only surviving brother, Barry Gibb.
As many are aware, The Bee Gees were lead by a trio of brothers – Barry, along with younger twin siblings Robin and Maurice Gibb. Together, from a young age, they shared similar musical aspirations, but what really made them special was their incredible, unmistakable vocal harmonies. Something that was unmatched, when united, their voices sounded as one. This in mind, the film does a great job of outlining how the blood bond between the brothers aided their style and sound, separating them from other bands from their era.
Although, above everything else, what The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart does vividly is outline each brother’s talents and unique personalities. You have Barry, who is still with us, giving his present life perspective on their journey. Then you also have quality, older footage of both Robin and Maurice expressing their thoughts. In between it all you also have interviews with former Bee Gees’ band members, giving an outsider’s look into it all, plus Nick Jonas, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Eric Clapton, Mark Ronson, as well as Oasis’ Noel Gallagher offering their own thoughts of admiration for The Bee Gees.
Beyond this, the documentary’s effectiveness hinges heavily on a plethora of archived footage; from live performances to early interviews, but also clips from downtime the brothers shared together in a more relaxed environment. All carefully selected and properly placed throughout the film, it flows so evenly you will hardly feel like you are sitting down for almost two hours. Additionally, Marshall rightfully includes details about the youngest of the Gibb brothers, Andy Gibb, who is also an intricate piece to this family’s puzzle.
Overall, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart is a wonderful music documentary which finally gives one of the greatest Rock-n-Roll bands of our time the respect they deserve. They had the voices, the songwriting skills, and an adaptability to find success, but what you really learn is that to achieve what they did, The Bee Gees needed one another. There is much to take away from this film, but, if anything, its main lesson is that the love of family is more important than any fame or fortune. An absolute must watch for people of all ages and musical tastes, Cryptic Rock gives The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart 5 out of 5 stars.