By Mark Savage
A forthcoming documentary on Tina Turner’s life is her farewell to fans, according to her husband.
The two-part film, which premieres this weekend, charts her rise to fame, as well as her abusive marriage to Ike Turner and her resurrection as a rock icon in the 1980s.
Although she hasn’t toured since 2009, the singer recently published memoirs and launched a musical about her life.
But the film finds her asking: “How do you bow out slowly, just go away?”
Director Dan Lindsay said the singer had envisioned the documentary as her final word.
“I appreciate all this love for me,” he quoted her as saying, “but I am done, I am tired, I just want to live in retirement”.
Turner’s husband, the former music executive Edwin Bach, described the documentary as the star’s goodbye”, saying: “This is it. Closure.”
Simply called Tina, the film will be broadcast on HBO in the US and Sky Documentaries in the UK this weekend.
Woven around a candid interview with the 81-year-old, it tracks the singer’s rise from a self-described “girl from the cotton fields” to one of the most recognisable names in music.
For the first 15 years of her career, the singer was inextricably linked with Ike Turner, with whom she scored hits like Nutbush City Limits, Proud Mary and River Deep Mountain High.
It was Ike who changed her name from Anna Mae Bullock to Tina Turner – a decision he took without her knowledge, presaging years of controlling and abusive behaviour in their marriage.
In the film, she describes how he would beat her before having sex, and then force her to go out on stage and perform.
“I was living a life of death,” she tells the film-makers. She attempted suicide before leaving the marriage in 1976, the documentary reveals.
After striking out on her own, she became one of the biggest-selling artists of the 1980 and 90s with hits like What’s Love Got To Do With It, Private Dancer and The Best.
That established a narrative that the singer had “overcome” her problems – but the film-makers discovered the reality was more complicated.
“We learned in early conversations with Tina that the pain of her past is always lurking around the corner,” said the film’s co-director TJ Martin.
“She’ll say it herself. She doesn’t mind talking about it [the abuse], but she knows if she does, it comes back in dreams, which is a form of PTSD.”
Early reviews of the documentary have been overwhelmingly positive, praising Turner’s candour and relishing the chance to relive her biggest hits.
“Even if you know Tina Turner’s story, you should watch Tina,” said Vulture. “The ways in which tragedy and triumph have defined her come through loud and clear.”
Parts of the film will “bring tears to your eyes”, said the New York Times, in particular the sections where she offers forgiveness to Ike – who died of a cocaine overdose in 2007.
The story of her marriage is balanced by “more celebratory” footage from her legendary concerts, added Screen Daily.
Whether it’s “Tina blowing the roof off whatever venue she happened to be playing” or “Tina revelling in the sheer pleasure of performance,” the wealth of “exhilarating archive material is one of the film’s main assets,” wrote the publication’s critic, Wendy Ide.