When Tina Turner was at her lowest point, she made her best decision. It was 1978, and the rock icon born Anna Mae Bullock was in court facing off with violent, controlling ex-husband Ike Turner. In the end, he was allowed to keep the house, cars and publishing royalties from their lucrative professional and matrimonial partnership. But she insisted on retaining the stage name he had given her. This struggle – to go her own way, no matter what – is at the heart of TINA, a comprehensive new documentary that tells the star’s moving story.
- Read more: “This is the last thing Tina Turner will do”: inside the rock icon’s career-spanning farewell film
Many will know Turner best from her global 1984 hit ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ and the 1993 movie named after it. The London-based production of that influential single and the triumphant comeback it set in motion comprises the fourth and most euphoric part of this two-hour doc that breaks Turner’s tumultuous career into five parts. Before that, the singer’s record-breaking rise in the ’60s and the lead-up to her subsequent split with Ike is documented via new interviews, asides with famous pals such as Oprah Winfrey and archive live footage from the time. The mix of past and present viewpoints makes for a newly insightful look at the life of a legend.
Turner’s remarkable talent is never in doubt as a fierce performer or vocalist, though it’s heartbreaking to hear how she was abandoned by both parents before being raised by a cousin in Nutbush, Tennessee – a rural backwater that would inspire arguably her greatest song, ‘Nutbush City Limits’. Meeting young musician and producer Ike in St. Louis as a teenager would put her rightfully in the spotlight, but the horrific beatings and mental torture Turner suffered because as a result clearly cast a shadow over any happiness success may have brought. The public first realised the truth of the Turner’s marriage from a 1981 People magazine article – and extensive audio from it is heard throughout TINA.
Anyone looking for criticism of the singer should note there is none, though this is unsurprising given that husband Erwin Bach serves as the film’s executive producer. There is also little that will surprise readers of autobiography I, Tina or long-term fans generally. Having said that, directors Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin have form creating compelling documentaries – they won an Oscar for The Undefeated in 2011 and made LA 92 in 2017, their National Geographic film which delved into the Los Angeles riots. They have done similarly well here. In TINA, classic live footage and engaging interview clips are arranged skilfully to create a powerful film that gives fans a look at Turner’s eventual happy ending. By reclaiming her stage name from Ike, she managed to sell 100 million records and kickstart a whole new solo career in the process. If, as Lindsay and Martin recently told NME, this is to be Turner’s final public project – it’s a fitting way to punch out.
- Directors: Dan Lindsay, T. J. Martin
- Starring: Tina Turner, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey
- Release date: March 27 (Sky Documentaries and NOW)