Dir: Daniel Lindsay, TJ Martin
Starring: Tina Turner, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, Erwin Bach, Kurt Loder, Roger Davies.
“Tina” premiered on HBO MAX on Saturday, March 27. Tina Turner had a mainstream feature film made about her starring Angela Bassett in 1993, and a Tina Turner Musical on Broadway, in 2019. This time, she gets a documentary, with her entire story being told, and being told by her.
Tina’s current husband, Erwin Bach, was named exec producer and is interviewed and is by Tina’s side the entire time. Tina Turner is currently 81 years old. She does not look a day over 50, I swear to God. She is still as sharp as a tack and moves and speaks beautifully. I was actually shocked to learn her age after watching this thing, which is really good by the way. If this is not her final word – I don’t know what is. This documentary is the definitive story – Tina thought her book, I, Tina, would be the final word – but apparently, she’s giving her final word, another shot.
You really can not blame the press or Tina, for that matter for telling her story over and over again. It is one that has never happened before, and will never happen again. It is almost impossible to make it in the music business, it is almost impossible to make it in this business if you are a woman, and it is almost impossible to leave an abusive relationship with a man you used to love and idolize. Tina did all of this, overcame all of this, and became one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
The documentary is an hour and 58 minutes – and it covers a lot of good things. Of course her health issues and the suicide of her son were left out – but why throw blood on a Rembrandt? Let the work of art shine in all its glory and inspire girls, kids, musicians and battered wives. It will do more good this way, and also tell a better story.
The pace is good – and it starts at the beginning, focusing on Tina, and not so much on Ike. No question she will forever be linked with Ike Turner, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and won a grammy in 2007 for Best Traditional Blues Album. Incidentally, that was the year Ike died from a cocaine overdose.
So the doc talks about Tina in love with Ike, Tina learning how to sing from Ike, how to perform, how to be professional, to build an iron work ethic, and also how to live in shame. Her story is very well documented, from appearances on Oprah to the Hollywood film. Oprah is also here, by the way, interviewed to support her good friend. Tina leaves Ike – a huge leap of courage and faith, and begins in the business, anew, from scratch, with nothing to show for her previous hit records or achievements but her name.
Tina grabs a manager, Roger Davies, who was managing the red hot Olivia Newton-John at the time, and off they go. He gathers demos for her to look at and try, and soon, in 1984, What’s Love Got To Do With It, was released and became a smash hit. Bigger and more popular than anything she or Ike have ever done before.
Tina divorced Ike in 1978, signed with Roger Davies in 1980 and had a smash hit record in 1984. Not too shabby. The song was originally offered to Donna Summer, Cliff Richard and Phyllis Hyman. All rejected it, until it was given to a British pop group – Bucks Fizz. They recorded it in Feb 1984, but Tina released her version before they did. After Tina released her version, Bucks Fizz shelved their version and it was never released until 2000. This little diddy about her breakthrough song was probably the most interesting thing and least known thing about Tina Turner and it was a really nice nugget of info hidden in just a gem of a documentary.
Another great nugget this film reveals that is not in the 1993 movie is the relationship Tina had with her mother. The film backtracks the abusive environment and relationship Tina had to endure with her own parents. Her mother Zelma was beaten and abused and childhood Tina was there to witness the traumatic events. Zelma eventually left, like Tina eventually did with her own husband, but Zelma left Tina as well, not just her husband, Zelma left her whole family behind. Tina was then left to be raised by her grandmother.
To this day Tina says she never felt any love from her mother or father, and that she has been searching for love since the day she was born. This could be another reason why she fell for Ike so hard, because she was so desperate to be loved by someone, anyone.
Tina Turner suffered a stroke in 2013, had to have a kidney transplant 2017, and was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2018. This film may have been done, because Tina feels she is running out of time and wanted her story documented correctly, without flash and without Hollywood. Told for all to see, hear, learn from, and be inspired by. This film does not go into her health issues, but I think there is more than enough truth here to call it a tremendous success.
We all know Tina’s story, but you just can not tire from it. She has been swimming upstream her entire life – she was always swimming against the tide and it’s just so good and heartwarming to see someone like that come out on the other end shining like gold. Tina has talent, warmth and an amount of determination and strength that would be make even Superman feel inadequate. She is an icon and an inspiration for all generations to come, and if you feel like you’re just not going to make it – listen to one of her songs, and smile to yourself, because you know that if she can do it, so can you.
Thanks for catching up with me here, on placetobenation.com, see ya on Thursday!