Bee Gees film captures the essence of family

Posted: 11am 27 Nov 2020

A new documentary tracing the lives of the Bee Gees is not just the story of a band – it’s a celebration of family.

While The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart touches on the early lives of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb in Australia, it picks up the story as they journey to England and then to the US, capturing the soaring highs and the crushing lows, their remarkable resilience and their ability to continually reinvent themselves as musicians and songwriters.

Brothers’ journey

Producer Nigel Sinclair says with so much material to draw on, the team behind The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart created a narrative that reflects the brothers’ journey as a family.

A respected producer of documentaries about the music industry, Sinclair’s work includes The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, Amazing Journey: Story of The Who, and Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, but he says this project was like no other.

“First of all, you start out trying to decide what this story’s all about, what is it about these people that is remarkable and the first thing that jumps out at me is family. Their unusually tight commitment to family.”

Prodigious talent

Nigel says the second thing that struck the crew was the Bee Gees’ unparalleled talent and creativity.

“This was a story of three brothers who were actually all prodigies, not just one, as is usually the case. Every time there’s a crisis, they go back to song writing. That’s how it happens that they wrote 1000 songs and had 24 top 10 number one hits.”

Speaking from Los Angeles, Nigel says while the influence of Australia – including Redcliffe, where they played their first gig – is unmistakable, director Frank Marshall and the producers made a difficult decision not to dwell on their years here in the film – although at one point Barry says living in Miami reminds him of his Australian childhood.

Redcliffe leaves its mark

“They cut their teeth as musicians and, most importantly, as harmonic composers there,” Nigel says.

“So, we get them to England and then they have this explosive journey, then they fall into a wilderness of despair and then they have another amazing success.

“And then they have the disco backlash, which was absolutely horrifying, which we really didn’t realise until we started researching, that it was really unpleasant, unpleasantly motivated.”

Disco backlash sparks new direction

Nigel says community outrage about disco music - which had its origins in African-American and Latino dance music and underground gay culture - had a profound impact on the Bee Gees, with radio stations refusing to play their music and death and bomb threats dogging their touring schedule.

“It’s been said that the Bee Gees aligned themselves with a movement that supported counter-culture and tolerance and got caught up in it,” he says

“That (disco backlash) was really shocking. It was actually horrible. Robin was very upset by it (but) Barry is a person with a very equitable temperament. He just sort of knuckled down and made an album (Guilty) with Barbra Streisand that sold millions of copies.

“For about five or six years they went on and wrote songs for other artists, not as the Bee Gees but as three brothers.”

Remembering Andy

Nigel says the documentary would not have been complete without including younger brother Andy, who was to have performed with the reformed Bee Gees, but died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 30.

“Andy’s relationship with his brothers artistically has always been there on the table,” he explains.

“Barry wanted to include Andy (in the film) because he became a very successful singer under his guidance and briefly performed with the Bee Gees.

“We wanted to follow his journey and it had some great joys and some sorrows and you saw Maurice trying to care for him (as he battled with addiction) and it would have been incomplete if we hadn’t covered Andy’s trajectory.”

Producer Nigel Sinclair

Honouring family

Nigel says it was a privilege to follow the story of the Bee Gees and Barry was very focused on honouring his brothers’ contribution.

“It was clear to us that Barry was ready to tell this story as an older man looking back on his life,” he explains.

“As you see in the beginning of the film when he says `my brothers are gone and we can’t bring that back and my memories are my memories’.”

Barry’s memories are supplemented by interviews with Robin and Maurice, including from a set of comprehensive recordings in 2000, as well as footage of Andy.

“I would say Barry was our spiritual guide in putting this film together,” Nigel says.

“But to be clear, we were independent. It was Frank’s film with some help from the producers, but Barry brought to it an emotion, a sense of spiritual settling up with the past.”

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart is screening at Hoyts Redcliffe from December 3.

Discover more Bee Gees history at Bee Gees Way in Redcliffe 

Explore the Bee Gees career spanning over four decades as you stroll down Bee Gees Way. The open-air museum will take visitors through an historical account, and meteoric rise of one of the world’s biggest pop groups. 

The monument features more than 60 captioned photos and 13 album covers spanning the band’s career. Visitors can explore the musical phenomenon from their humble beginnings to their career highlights. Take in a huge 70-metre mural featuring artwork of Barry, Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb. 

Every night from 7pm until 9.30pm visitors can witness light shows set to the Bee Gees greatest hits. This is a must-see event for anyone planning a trip to Bee Gees Way. 

Discover more about the Bee Gees’ time in Redcliffe here.

Read more local news here.



Help put Caboolture on world aviation map

An appeal has been made in Caboolture for help to get the world's only 'active' Bristol Beaufort bomber back into the skies.…

Chamber of Commerce offers free membership

Redcliffe Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is offering free membership in a bid to connect businesses during tough times.…

More you might like:


Local News   •   31-7-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Community rallies to support producers

The community has rallied to support producers devasted by the snap lockdown and cancellation of this weekend’s Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival. They have bought about $10,000 worth of produce and will collect it tomorrow at Dayboro and Samford.…

Local News   •   31-7-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Students ready to hack into data for skills test

USC Engineering and Computer Science students will hack into open government data next month to find solutions to real-world problems at GovHack, which is being hosted by USC Moreton Bay for the first time.…

Local News   •   31-7-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Lockdown forces events to cancel

The snap three-day lockdown, which takes effect at 4pm today has forced the cancellation of many big and small events across the region. Here’s a list…

Local News   •   31-7-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Snap three-day lockdown from 4pm

Moreton Bay Region is one of 11 council areas going into a snap three-day lockdown from 4pm today. It comes as Deputy premier Steven Miles announced seven new cases in Queensland in the last 24 hours.…

Local News   •   31-7-2021  •   Kylie Knight

‘80s party vibe strikes a chord

Redcliffe-based band the Killtoys have found inspiration in the pop/new wave vibes of the 1980s for their latest single and it seems the punters are loving it.…

Local News   •   30-7-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Flood-proof, safer road on horizon

The $12.9 million upgrade of Henry and Dohles Rocks roads at Griffin will start in the coming months, with the project now out to tender and due to be finished early next year.…

Your free local community newspaper, home delivered fortnightly.

Read Latest Edition