Near the end of the documentary, "Tina," the legendary, raspy-voiced superstar singer is escorted into a Broadway play based on her life, "Tina: The Tina Turner Story," with screaming, adoring fans mobbed all over the scene and surrounding her as she makes her way inside. On one arm is Tina's husband since 2013, Erwin Bach, and on her other arm is none other than her close friend, Oprah Winfrey.
It took me a few seconds to even realize that Oprah was there, and the fervorous fan-base chanting Tina's name also couldn't care less. Tina still has it...and is still such a force to be reckoned with that you don't even notice when she's standing next to Oprah Winfrey. Tina is larger than life, larger than Oprah...an icon and an inspiration to many. But arriving at that precise moment outside the theater, happy, content and in love, is really a tremendous testament to the endurance of Tina Turner. I'd say her rise was impossible, if only Tina hadn't in fact made it possible.
The tumultuous, incredible life of Tina Turner is on full display in the new HBO Max documentary film, simply titled "Tina." It takes what you may know about her and goes deeper than ever before, and is an emotional swan song for the now 81-year-old legend, who is deciding to slowly bow out of the limelight after all these years.
Born Anna Mae Bullock to her poor sharecropper parents in Brownsville, Tennessee, Tina Turner would go on to be known as the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," having sold over 100 million records, winning 12 Grammys and becoming one of the best-selling recording artists of all-time. In her early years, she was discovered by fellow future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ike Turner, who groomed her and gave her the name she would carry for the rest of her life. Together, they produced music, with hits like "River Deep - Mountain High" and "Proud Mary" being perhaps the most recognizable. Tina even starred, memorably, in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," a testament to how in-demand she was at the height of her fame.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Tina Turner knows that her life is intertwined with that of Ike's though, and that what started off good quickly turned horrific. Tina was beaten by Ike, mentally and physically abused for years, and kept under his thumb, all while he continued exploiting Tina's talents for profit. She endured his torture for decades, before finally finding the strength to break free of his grasp. It was then and only then, that Tina was able to find and reach her fullest potential.
Even though Tina truly shot up to superstardom after breaking away from Ike, her relationship with him still haunted her for much of Tina's solo career. Not because she hasn't been able to process and deal with the trauma, but because of the constant reminders she would have of those years, in nearly every press interview she ever took part in. Tina refused to let her marriage to Ike define her. As we learn in the doc, the abuse she has experienced far out-dates that which Ike brought into her life.
Dealing with what Tina dealt with in her life would be more than what many could ever handle. But Tina persevered.
Most gratifying of all for viewers, "Tina" features and is endorsed by Tina Turner herself, who appears gloriously and radiantly as she ever was, unafraid to shed new light on old, painful memories. Her legacy is in good hands with Oscar-winning documentarians Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin at the helm. They seem drawn to underdog stories (see their Oscar-winning film, "Undefeated") and there's no bigger "comeback" story than that of Tina Turner.
"Tina" is of course a "music documentary," but this one digs deeper than most. It's not just a fond look back at her body of work (although it does include many of her famous live performances), it's a lesson in self-preservation, of self-dignity, of hope and courage.
Out of context, that walk into the Broadway theater is just a moment that many famous people can relate to. Fans waiving, clapping, celebrating. But with the knowledge of what came before in Tina's life and what she went through to get to where she is now, it's enough to make even those watching at home stand and cheer.
Run Time: 1 hour 58 minutes.
Written/Directed by Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin ("Undefeated").
"Tina" debuts on HBO/HBO Max on Saturday, March 27th, 2021.
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