The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

A still of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb in The Bee Gees. Courtesy of HBO.

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, directed by Frank Marshall, is a career-spanning documentary on the Gibb brothers.

Over 1,000 songs.

Twenty #1 hits.

Barry Gibb appears in new revelatory interviews but Robin and Maurice Gibb only appear in archival footage.  The film makes great use of the archives including footage from recording sessions, concerts, television appearances, and home videos.  This is in addition to interviews with other musicians and record executives.  All in all, the footage gets weaved in nicely to perform a portrait of a the band.

It took three continents for the Bee Gees to find their sound.  Until watching the film, I never knew about their Australia roots.  While finding some success in London, it’s not until landing in Miami that they began to discover the sound that makes them famous today.  Who knows what their sound or fame would be if Barry Gibb never discovers his falsetto?!?

When one looks at Barry Gibb, they can’t help but think about Brian Wilson.  Both Barry Gibb and Brian Wilson are the oldest surviving brothers in their family.  Gibb also survives young brothers Robin, Maurice, and Andy.  Appropriately, the film is dedicated to the three younger brothers.  It was announced in 1988 that younger brother Andy would be joining the band.  Unfortunately, a combination of drug addiction and depression led to his tragic death at 30 years old.

This is my type of documentary.  While I was a child of the 80s, I grew up listening to classic rock or as it was then known, the oldies music station.  It’s still very much the music that appeals to me today.  When I learned that Frank Marshall was directing a documentary on the Bee Gees, my interest was immediately piqued.

Marshall covers everything there is to know.  He even brings in current Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner to discuss a Chicago White Sox promotion.  It is not uncommon for sports teams to have promotions leading to a discount in tickets.  In this instance, anyone bringing in a disco album would get a discount.  Some fans would try to get into the game with an R&B album.  I guess they didn’t think there was a difference?  Obviously, this isn’t the main thing about the film but it also segues into the whole disco sucks movement.

The Bee Gees started to find their fame in the 1960s but you cannot talk about them without discussing Saturday Night Fever.  The film, starring John Travolta, would change their careers with a best-selling soundtrack.  Unfortunately, it also meant being defined as a disco band.  Unfortunately, it also meant radio stations would not want to play their music.  Interest would eventually wane in the 1980s so the band made the pivot to songwriting for other musicians.

If you watched TV in the early 2000s, The Barry Gibb Talk Show was a regular sketch recurring on SNL.  Unless I am mistaken, there are no clips from the Saturday Night Live sketch unless I somehow missed it.  That being said, Justin Timberlake does make an appearance.  Jimmy Fallon, however, does not make an appearance.

This will also speak to the musical talents of the band.  “Butterfly” comes to an end before the film credits are done.  It takes “Words” to play over the credits while the majority of the band’s songs are listed.  If this doesn’t speak to their musical gifts, I don’t know what will.

The Bee Gees covers practically everything there is to know about a band that would go on to touch so many generations of fans.

DIRECTOR:  Frank Marshall
FEATURING:  Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Peter Brown, Eric Clapton, Vince Melouney, Mark Ronson, Noel Gallagher, Mykaell Riley, Lulu, Nick Jonas, Linda Gibb, Alan Kendall, Yvonne Gibb, Bill Oakes, Dennis Bryon, Blue Weaver, Karl Richardson, Chris Martin, Albhy Galuten, Justin Timberlake, Nicky Sano, Charley Steiner, Vince Lawrence, Dwina Gibb

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart will air December 12, 2020 at 8 PM ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.