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Frank Marshall
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
Writing Credits:
Mark Monroe

An exploration of the history of the Bee Gees.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 11/16/2021

• 2 Deleted Scenes


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The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 14, 2022)

Mention the disco craze of the late 1970s and the image of the Bee Gees invariably comes to mind, as they personified the genre. However, the group existed long before Saturday Night Fever, and 2020’s documentary How Can You Mend a Broken Heart gives us a look at the band’s entire career.

Mend uses a standard framework that mixes archival elements with interviews. In the latter domain, we hear modern-day comments from musicians Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton, Vince Melouney, Mark Ronson, Noel Gallagher, Mykaell Riley, Lulu, Nick Jonas, Alan Kendall, Dennis Bryon, Blue Weaver, Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake, and Vince Lawrence, NEMS management team’s Peter Brown, Barry’s wife Linda, Maurice’s widow Yvonne, former RSO Records CEO Bill Oakes, studio engineer Karl Richardson, producer Albhy Galuten, club DJ Nicky Siano, radio DJ Charley Steiner, and Robin Gibb’s widow Dwina.

We also get older comments from musicians Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Andy Gibb, Alice Cooper, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, manager Robert Stigwood, producer Arif Mardin, and radio DJ Steve Dahl.

Mend follows a standard chronological progression. Born in England, the Gibbs moved to Australia during the brothers’ youth.

After a brief look at the band’s earliest time in Australia, we leap to the mid-late 1960s with the Bee Gees back in England to further their nascent musical career. We view their early successes, problems – and a 1969 breakup – before the mid-70s move to R&B/disco, massive fame and the inevitable downfall.

Due to my age, I only got to know the “dance Bee Gees” of the mid-late 1970s in real time. “You Should Be Dancing” in 1975 became my first exposure to the band, and I hopped on the Saturday Night Fever bandwagon with both feet in 1977.

“Dance Bee Gees” remains the only era of the band’s career that works for me still. I can appreciate the songcraft of their earlier material but find those tunes to seem too mawkish and melodramatic for my taste.

That said, Mend spends far too little time on this period of the group’s existence. The program speeds through the pre-1975 Bee Gees rapidly and only obliges about one-third of the program to this seminal period.

This feels like a mistake, as obviously the band’s first decade or so feels pivotal. In addition, it’s not like Bee Gees didn’t enjoy massive success in that span – sure, they now enjoy stronger attachment to their dance period, but they still sold tons of records previously.

In addition, Mend approaches chronology in an awkward manner. For instance, we learn of the Bee Gee’s 1969 breakup and then hop back to 1967 for the death of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

Other chronological issues seem likely to irk attentive viewers. For example, as Mend looks at the disco oversaturation of the post-Fever late 1970s period, it uses Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” as an example.

The problem? “Duck” came out in 1976 so it pre-dated Fever and the true explosion of the disco craze after Fever.

Bizarrely, Mend completely ignores the Bee Gees’ starring roles in 1978’s flop Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While the program doesn’t need to spend a lot of time on it, given that it acted as the first ding against the Bee Gees in their peak commercial period, Mend should discuss it.

Perhaps these issues would bother me less if Mend felt like a more satisfying documentary, but it tends to come across as rather superficial. Granted, 111 minutes, means we don’t find sufficient space to explore the career of a band that lasted for decades, so I expect some of this.

Nonetheless, Mend barely dips its toe in a lot of the band’s existence, and it rushes too much. Again, this particularly impacts pre-1975 Bee Gees, but even the “dance era” parts come across as hurried.

We do find some good elements, mainly when we hear from the Gibb brothers themselves. I often wish we only heard from them, as many of the other participants seem superfluous.

Actually, the use of Noel Gallagher adds intrigue, mainly because he shares the challenges of life in a band with siblings. However, most of the non-Gibb subjects feel lackluster.

In general, these folks just lather on praise for the Bee Gees. Not much insight results, and Mend wastes time on odd tangents with details about side musicians.

No offense to those folks, but Mend intends to offer a tale of the Brothers Gibb. Time spent with connected figures doesn’t fit the overall thesis, so these detours take away from time that needs to focus on the Gibbs.

I do like the segments that discuss the specifics of how the Bee Gees created specific songs, and some of the archival material offers appeal. We get tantalizing clips of a professionally shot 1979 concert that makes me wish it’d get its own Blu-ray release.

Unfortunately, Mend just feels too superficial and rushed to achieve its goals. While it comes with some positives, it would work better if it came as a much longer documentary.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. With its mix of new interviews and archival footage, Mend looked fine for this sort of program.

As always, I viewed the old material and the new shots with different expectations, and the archival stuff jumped all over the place. It could look pretty okay at times, but we also got some messy, clips.

I didn’t have any real problems with those, however, as I figured they were about as good as we could get. In any case, the flaws of the old bits didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the program, as they blended just fine and didn’t cause distractions.

Overall, the new footage offered nice visuals. Sharpness was quite good, as virtually no softness impacted on the modern shots, so those elements appeared concise and accurate.

Colors were natural, and no notable defects affected the new footage. Blacks and shadows followed suit, as they seemed perfectly positive. Overall, the visuals were solid given the program’s parameters.

In addition, the program’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the material as well. Unsurprisingly, music became the primary beneficiary of the multichannel mix, as the songs spread to the front side and rear channels.

The quality of the instrumental delineation varied, as some tracks boasted really nice localization, whereas others felt less “specific”. Still, the show allowed the various speakers to utilize the music in an involving manner that didn’t seem showy or obnoxious.

Dialogue remained focused on the front center, and effects played a minor role here. Because music acted as the focal point, we got few instances of effects, so they added little to the proceedings.

Audio quality worked well, with speech that seemed natural and concise for the most part. Some archival elements lacked distinctive tones, but those remained in the minority and create no issues.

As mentioned, effects lacked much presence. When they appeared, they seemed acceptably accurate.

Music usually seemed pleasing. Again, some archival clips lacked great range, but the vast majority of the songs stemmed from studio recordings.

These featured solid range and clarity. Given the program’s reliance n music, I felt this became a good “B” soundtrack.

Two Deleted Scenes appear: “Meeting the Bee Gees” (2:04) and “Bands of Brothers” (1:14). In the first, we hear from musicians Nick Jonas, Noel Gallagher, Justin Timberlake, and Chris Martin. “Bands” involves Martin, Timberlake, Jonas, and musician Mark Ronson.

“Meeting” lets those musicians discuss their encounters with the Gibb brothers, whereas “Bands” offers bland pleasantries about the Bee Gees. Neither offers anything compelling – they couldn’t come up with outtakes from Barry and others actually involved with the creation of the music?

With a slew of ups and downs, the Bee Gees enjoyed a career that deserves a quality exploration. Despite some compelling moments, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart falls short of those goals and feels like a too short and too superficial overview. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with minor bonus materials. I’d love a “director’s cut” of Mend, but this version disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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