August 28, 1995 12:00 PM

The Disney Channel (Sun., Aug. 27, 9 p.m. ET)


The common image of Brian Wilson, the architect of the Beach Boys’ sound, is of a tragic genius, a prolific and unique composer who devolved into a reclusive, drug-addled emotional wreck. This intimate film profile presents a person, who, though clearly troubled, is still articulate and interesting when talking about his life and his all-consuming artistic urge. For example, Wilson tells an involved story about how a dog’s barking at his mother inspired the hit “Good Vibrations.”

The film includes observations from Wilson’s family and intimates, as well as from musicians (Tom Petty, Randy Newman and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore) and musicologists. Many of them point out that though the Beach Boys sported a square, preppy look and sang about surfers and hot rods, Wilson’s music was complex and visionary, and his harmonies and arrangements were brilliant.

Sad and illuminating, this is a bittersweet tribute to an American musical icon. The striking black-and-white film was directed by Don Was, who also produced Wilson’s new album. Ah, synergy!

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