Movie Review: ‘The Beatles: Eight Days A Week’
Director: Ron Howard
Plot: Coming out of Liverpool in the 1960s The Beatles became the biggest musical act in history. Some 50 years on we follow the Fab Four on their touring years through Beatlemania, breaking into the USA and eventually restricting themselves to the studio.
Review: It’s hard to pin down exactly how The Beatles phenomenon happened. With teenage culture having just emerged, a completely different sounding musical act hitting the circuit and the musical chemistry the band members shared it feels like a perfect storm of elements coming together to create an unbeatable pop culture blend. No-one has come close to matching their popularity and longevity and it’s unlikely anyone will.
Howard has worked without a narrator and minimal new material in this venture, instead building the narrative out of archival material. Aside from animating the smoke coming of the many cigarettes there’s little flash or sparkle added. We get plenty of photos and footage overlaid with old and new interviews to tell us the story. We see the insane size of the mobs that pursued The Beatles and how they banded together to cope behind the scenes. Their personalities really shine through, capturing their off-beat humour and deep bonds that they formed on the road.
The biggest draw is the concert footage, having been digitally restored and remastered in many cases this will be the best look at their performances most people will get the chance to see. For those who missed the era (I was literally born the day Lennon died) there’s always been a barrier between us and their performances in the form of the limited technology available at the time. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to get a sense of their on stage personality and how the crowd responded in turn. If you see this doco in the cinemas make sure to stay after the credits for a full 30 minutes of fully restored footage from Shea Stadium. Absolutely brilliant for fans of all ages.
If we are to draw any criticism, it’s that this is a rose-tinted view of the past. We get the back story of The Beatles and how they formed as a group, but past band members Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe going completely unmentioned. None of the tension between band members that led to their eventual division gets a look in either. According to this film everything was peaches for the Beatles, their only concern in the world was being too popular.
But as a celebration of their live act it’s a pretty good package. If you’re new to The Beatles this will give you a great insight into their chronology. If you’re a long term fan this will be a sweet reminder of why you love these boys, coupled with welcome new insight into their lives. Make sure you check it out on the big screen for the extra content at the end.
Rating: NINE out of TEN