At The Cinema: Paul McCartney Really Is Dead – The Last Testament of George Harrison

A brief disclaimer, if I may. I’m one of those people who, shall we say, tend to err on the side of conspiracies. For instance, I don’t believe there was a lone shooter down in Dallas. In my opinion, things are rarely what they seem, and this is especially true when you’re talking about large-scale cover-ups and dirty deeds. That being said, I was fairly predisposed to buy into the film about which I’m about to opine. After all, I’ve already written about a book I read a little while back on the very same subject. And “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead – The Last Testament of George Harrison” really takes that whole the dead Paul thing and runs miles and miles with it. Here’s the thing. I’m of two minds about this little “doc.” Part of me really, really wants to believe everything the flick purports. But there’s some stuff here that just doesn’t fly, no matter how much I’d like it to be so. Allow me to elaborate.

The premise here is that back in 2005, the production company behind the film found themselves with quite a special delivery: Two mini-cassettes with a voice on them sounding a little like one George Harrison, spinning a tale of premature death, government cover-up, and the secrets to album clues about that very same death and cover-up. It very well could be considered too good to be true. And it’s certainly one of my biggest bones of contention here. The voice on the tapes, which incidentally is used to narrate the film, doesn’t really sound like George Harrison to me. Mind you, I’m not from Liverpool, but certain things about the pronunciation made me raise an eyebrow and frown at my television. “Maxwell” is pronounced “Muxwell.” “Berkshire” is pronounced almost the way an American would say it, not the way someone born and bred in England would. Even if he was trying to be cheeky. This voice distracted me the whole way through the 95 minute proceedings, as I tried vainly to let myself believe it was Harrison’s voice.

However, it’s when you take out the voice factor that the film actually gets interesting. Pretending it was just another narrator let me free up my attention to what was actually being covered. And if even a fraction of what was said in the film is actually true, it would be altogether rather shocking. Without giving too much away, the idea here is that after an argument about musical direction after a recording session on November 9, 1966, Paul McCartney drove off, picked up a young woman (named Rita, of course), and then crashed his car and died. Fearing mass hysteria and suicides by impressionable Beatles fans, MI5 stepped in and convinced the band to continue on, with the addition of William Campbell, contestant in a Paul look-alike contest (bizarrely enough, put on in conjunction with Dick Clark’s American Bandstand). The band agreed, and proceeded to cease touring, and left a heaping helping of clues about Paul’s death in record covers, lyrics, and on backwards messages. Campbell, for his part, worked on his Liverpudlian accent, got tons of plastic surgery, and set about trying to become Paul. “George Harrison” provides some pretty thought-provoking snippets of information about all manner of things, from Jane Asher to Linda Eastman to the origins of Apple to that dodgy moustache Paul (or “Faul,” as the other three supposedly referred to the fake Paul) used to sport. Not to mention the stuff about Lennon’s murder and the attempted murder of Harrison, in 1999 (when the tapes are supposed to have been recorded).

But for every point that lends credibility to the notion that Paul might actually be deceased, there’s a glaring error that besmirches the feasibility of the whole film. For starters, when talking about an “official” vehicle, used by “Maxwell,” their MI5 contact (he of the silver hammer, I’d venture), the film uses footage of a standard black cab, the kind you’d find tooling all around London. A pretty basic thing to check, you’d think, but the production types didn’t stop there. Rubber Soul is offered up as the first record on which the band began to leave clues for fans. But a quick check of the dates shows that Rubber Soul was released before the date on which Paul allegedly died. Again, another fairly simple fact to check, eh researchers? No? So too with Revolver, which was released months before Paul’s supposed accident, which negates all “clues” found within that record. It took less than ten seconds to locate those dates, which makes me wonder how the researchers could have screwed up so royally. The only way these clues could have applied would be if the date of death was incorrect. If “George” really meant November of 1965, well, that would make things a whole lot different. The last glaring error involves the identity of Rita, but I’ll save that humdinger for your own personal amusement. However, the historical reminiscences are informative and nostalgic, the footage is neat to see, and some of “George’s” commentary is pretty dang amusing.

So, then, what is it? Is “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead – The Last Testament of George Harrison” a hoax? Is it legit, with some errors the researchers weren’t careful enough to correct? A little of both? The case for and against this legend being true both have weight, but there’s really only a handful of folks who know the truth as it really is. My verdict is still out, though what I can tell you is that I enjoyed this little film. errors and all. For you fellow conspiracy lovers, you might just want to give this a view or two.


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