Tina

Absolutely fantastic! What an inspiring, interesting, in-depth documentary.

Tina traces the life of Tina Turner, world renowned superstar. This is definitely one of the better music biopics I’ve seen, really doing a marvellous job of pulling together a wealth of sources to tell the story of an extraordinary woman’s life.

I knew Tina from her hits in the 80s and 90s, and I knew that was kinda the second chapter in her career, but it was weird for me to see her singing way back in the 50s. That seems almost too remote a time. Like, Tina Turner is basically as old as rock and roll. And she was in music from the age of 17 until she retired at the age of 70. I mean, that’s just incredible.

Also, she had so much tragedy that befell her early on. Firstly, she really came from nothing. Her family were dirt poor, picking cotton in the South. Her father was abusive and her mother fled the family without warning to escape him. She never really had a bond with her mother and that relationship remained strained their entire life. Her father also abandoned the family not long after, and she had to be put into the care of relatives.

Then at 17 she fell into the hands of Ike Turner. And you could see what a hold he had on her from the beginning. He was older than her at 25, he was her favourite musician, and he mentored her, giving her her first break in singing. He was like an older brother to her, which then morphed into having a sexual element, and eventually marriage. He worked her day and night in the studio and on tour. She was almost never out of his sight, and he controlled everything about their music. And for her, he was the only family she had in the world, the only person who wanted her, and had sworn never to abandon her, and who was desperate that she stayed with him. She was central to his life, so much that his personal and professional lives both revolved around her, surely that was love.

But that continual monitoring and control, disguised as attentiveness, love and loyalty, soon descended into abuse. It was physical, sexual, mental and emotional. And it last for over a decade. So to the world, they were the adorable couple singing love songs together on the tv or wireless. And that image was his shield.

She was approaching 40 when she finally got the courage to leave him. It’s hard to imagine, being a big music star, having sold millions of records, and she left in the night with the clothes she was standing up in, running across a motorway in the dark, dodging trucks and cars to make it to safety. In the divorce, he got everything. She literally got one thing, the trademark to her name. And in middle age, with 4 kids, and no money, she had to start all over again.

And it’s from here you really see was an incredible woman she is, because with nothing but hard work, and iron-strong belief in herself, she fights every uphill battle to, not just reclaim the ground she has lost, but to propel herself further, into a level of superstardom she had only previously dreamt of. Given her talent, to me as a kid in the 80s it was unremarkable and self-evident that Tina Turner was a star, but now I look at it years on, you see what she was facing. That a 40-year-old woman was able to launch a solo music career, with herself as a sex icon frontwoman, is just unheard of.

She did it, and she did it on her own terms. And it’s an enduring legacy. Her work is still being discovered by younger generations of audiences through the Tina! musical. She became an icon for music fans, an inspiration for women, and a beacon of hope for survivors. She was handed trauma and poverty, and what she gave the world was song and strength.

Just a great film.