Tina Turner: A Story of Hope and Survival
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 28: American-Swiss singer and actress Tina Turner performs during her 1985 ‘Private Dancer Tour’ on August 28, 1985 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Ross Marino/Getty Images)
“I hardly ever received love in my life.” It is the most honest and poignant phrase that Tina Turner says in a documentary capable of stirring hearts all over the world.
Because she says it herself after remembering the abandonment of her parents, the physical abuse of her first husband and the constant perseverance of her existence that made her a rock star at 45 years old.
In Tina (2021), she herself relays and shares the story of her life, making us invisible witnesses of her struggle, the traumas and suffering she suffered, while she symbolizes hope and survival in the wake of an incomparable passion.
And while it was released in 2021 to critical acclaim, I think there’s no better time to remember it than now. Because after the singer’s death, it stands as the most relevant audiovisual piece about her history. Because she tells it herself. And with all the sincerity in the world.
The pioneering rock’n’roll star passed away on May 24 after battling a long illness. She was 83 years old and had survived two decades working under the abuse of Ike Turner and the death of two children. As well as a stroke in 2013 that forced her to learn to walk again, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and underwent a kidney transplant in 2017.
A Survivor’s Tale
The survivor thing about her falls short of her when it comes to her. And although her life was captured in three biographies, a biopic starring Angela Bassett and a Broadway musical, the HBO documentary manages to break down all the barriers of fame by showing us an artist who emotionally stripped herself before the world. And in the process he helped us to know and understand her. To empathize with her more than ever.
Through archival material and interviews conducted during the development of the documentary, Tina Turner revealed that she had decided to speak about the abuse perpetrated by her ex-husband in 1981 with the sole intention of leaving the topic in the past.
She did it with an interview for People magazine, thinking that this way the press would stop asking her about it. She wanted to be free of the past. Because every time she was asked about Ike and the control she was subjected to during her artistic beginnings, she felt the emotional earthquake of trauma. But her plan did not work. Actually, she sparked more interest.
The Struggles of a Rock’n’Roll Icon
She tried again with a book. Then she with the movie Tina, the true story of Tina Turner (1993), although she refused to see it because she precisely did not want to relive on screen the blows she had received since she was 21 years old. And then she volunteered to make the documentary.
Directed by TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay, Tina Turner – whose real name was Anna Maw Bullock – tells that and much more, shedding her shiny dresses and her eighties hair, to sit before the camera and tell it all.
She from the past with Ike Turner by constantly reliving the traumas she suffered during her career when the subject came up in interviews as if talking about it was the most normal thing in the world. And it wasn’t.
“The trauma is so deep that going back to it takes you back,” she says in the documentary. “But if you don’t face the wounds of your past, you keep bleeding,” she added.
A Surviving Woman
The most striking thing about this documentary is that she gives voice to a surviving woman who seeks to share and inspire without victimizing herself.
Even when she reveals that she barely had 36 cents in her pocket when she walked out on her ex-husband after taking the last hit from her. Or when she explains that she lost everything in her divorce but in exchange for taking her stage name to plan her professional revival. Or when she details her suicide attempt and the panic she felt waking up in the hospital with Ike’s voice next to her.
Tina Turner was such a music legend she deserves a documentary. But when you get ready to see it, you don’t expect that after such success, there would be a woman who suffered loneliness with her heart in the palm of her hand.
Having suffered the rejection of her parents, separated from her children for eight months a year as a result of the forced manipulation of her ex-husband and under the emotional contradiction of being a victim of abuse living between fear and shame.
And it is that Tina Turner completely bared her soul in this documentary, revealing to the world the affective deficiencies that caused her so much pain while the world venerated her.
The pain, frustration and loneliness are perceived in her voice like an emotional dagger that reaches anyone. Fortunately, someone did discover it. Erwin Bach, whom she married 27 years after their relationship began. And the rest is history.
However, although now we have to say goodbye to her, her musical legend was embodied in each of her songs and that tsunami of energy that was her legs. But, also, in this documentary that allows us to get to know her in depth and understand the woman behind the icon with confessions that are translated as the eternal testament of her inspiring perseverance.