Fresh from the festival circuit is Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin’s music documentary Tina, an emotional closure to the legendary singer’s tumultuous past as the 81 year old says a final goodbye to her fans and showbiz. A powerful and triumphant celebration of her illustrious career, the immersive documentary spans five decades, revealing the real pain and adversity the singer’s conquered to reach glittering heights.
Charting her early gospel roots as front-woman of ‘Ike & Tina Turner’ in the late 50s, to her rise as a rock’n’roll Queen defying all expectations, Tina really is a definitive retelling of the singer’s life, accounting the many highs and lows. The documentary is split into five individually titled parts, opening with the revelations of her 1981 People Magazine profile with the then-music editor Carl Arrington. This section, titled ‘Ike & Tina Turner’, deeply delves into her abusive marriage to musician Ike Turner, accounting for the first half of the documentary.
Featuring a wealth of archival performances, home video clips and photographs, Tina’s early career is richly brought to screen in an incredibly tense and heartbreakingly insightful way. The manipulation and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband is laid out bare for all to see, marrying up with the original interview audio tapes from ’81, as well as candid interviews from Arrington, Oprah Winfrey, co-workers and family friends.
Breaking free from her marriage and the constraints of the American music industry as a Black artist, particularly following the 1966 behemoth record “River Deep — Mountain High”, the documentary shines best charting the rise of her solo career in the UK and Europe. With a new manager (Roger Davies) behind her, Tina unleashed the revolutionary “What’s Love Got to Do with It” with the aim of being the first Black woman in rock ‘n’ roll to play stadiums like the Rolling Stones. Through her defiant vocals, she transformed the song, with the aim of finally setting aside her traumatic past in the hopes of a new chapter.
Due to the continual probing by the press, Tina went on to co-author her autobiography, I, Tina, with Rolling Stone editor Kurt Loder in 1986. This was then adapted for the big screen in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It, which once again set the record straight on her and Ike Turner’s marriage. The film saw Oscar nominations for stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, while Tina Turner continued to speak up and call out domestic violence, no longer wanting to be defined as a victim – long before the #MeToo movement. The documentary amusingly even recalls Turner’s part in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as the leather clad badass Aunt Entity.
Concluding with a cathartic look back at her humble beginnings; born to Tennessee cotton field sharecroppers who shockingly disowned her at a terribly young age, to an icon with her own musical biopic on Broadway and a loving second marriage. It’s remarkable to see just how far she’s come, conquering a myriad of unthinkable hurdles along the way.
Closing with a standout performance of “I Can’t Stand the Rain” in front of a record-breaking 186,000 people at the 1988 Rio show, Tina is a real triumph of a documentary celebrating Turner’s unbreakable spirit. Featuring a remarkable insight thanks to an impressive array of personal interviews combined with archival performances and footage, Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin sensitively and electrifyingly shine a light on her legacy, proving that she really is the best.
TINA airs 28th March on Sky Documentaries, NOW TV and through altitude.film