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Reconsidering the Story Tina Turners Been Telling for 40 Years – Jezebel

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Illustration for article titled Reconsidering the Story Tina Turner's Been Telling for 40 Years

Photo: HBO

For a virtuoso performer whose sublime efforts in entertaining the masses are telegraphed in even the smallest nuance—the articulated micro-movements of her prance across the stage, the twitches and strain of her face muscles changing with each passing second, her wail that tapers into a snarl—Tina Turner frequently projects a surprising attitude in a new documentary about her life: reluctance.

“The first interview we did in February 2019, we were sitting down to do the interview and I was like, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ She was like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” Daniel Lindsay said via Zoom recently. Lindsay is one of the directors of Tina, which debuts Saturday on HBO. “I knew she didn’t mean the whole documentary, but the interview. We were like, ‘Let’s start there. Let’s talk about that.’”

Reluctance has been a motif throughout Turner’s public life after her divorce from Ike Turner, the rock and roll pioneer who she says abused her horrifically for years during their marriage and musical collaboration. As Turner recounts in Tina, she was initially moved to tell her story to People magazine in 1981 to once and for all sever her image from that of Ike, whom she finally escaped in 1976. The opposite ended up happening. The story of her fleeing Ike Turner to experience the greatest success of her career, ascending to bonafide rock god in the ‘80s, has not just defined Turner’s public profile, it’s achieved something of a legendary status within the annals of American pop culture.

That story gave Lindsay and his directing partner, T.J. Martin something to chew on that other subjects in this realm might have been lacking. The pair is extremely selective about their projects, having won the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for The Undefeated. (The victory made Martin the first Black person to win in that category.) “Part of the reason we were so hesitant to sign on to direct the film is these kind of films can be—I hope ours is not—the Marvel movies of the documentary world: bigger budgets and built-in audience,” explained Lindsay. “We knew we were never going to do a traditional rock doc, as it were, where we were just gonna dissect her musical catalog and talk about Tina as a performer.”

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