When you think of truly iconic musicians, who springs to mind? The likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Elvis and of course The Beatles. And now nearly 50 years after they stopped touring, actor and director Ron Howard has produced a documentary entitled The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years; which looks at the touring years of the band between 1962 – 1966.
When it comes to The Beatles, there is no shortfall of memorabilia, articles, films and you’d think everything that could possibly be said about the band has been said. This is far from the case: the documentary plays through as a timeline and shows press conferences (which the band hated), backstage and studio footage as well as unseen concerts from the time, with some being remastered. What really stood out for us was the amount of musical content there was: songs are played in their entirety and crowd reactions to the band are priceless – imagine screaming 60s girls, with a dress sense to match! We also get a look into the production of two of The Beatles films, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, both of which we’ll have to re-watch after claims that the band were high for most of the filming. This documentary also ends on a high with 30 minutes of footage from the band’s 1965 concert at the Shea Stadium, New York.
At just under 2 hours, we’re taken on a journey down memory lane, with candid interviews with band members and a host of celebrities, ranging from Whoopi Goldberg, who talked about how The Beatles were colourless and how they refused to play in segregated arenas to journalist Larry Kane, who travelled with the band during their 1964-1965 tour of America.
The film teaches us what a delicate time the 60s were for America, with the shooting of President Kennedy, the Vietnam war and racial tensions all culminating around the same time as the hysteria surrounding The Beatles. With the popularity also comes the controversy, and the film doesn’t shy away from the storm and subsequent backlash that was John Lennon claiming that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. The reasons behind the band’s hiatus and directional change in music are also explored; the band talk about how because of their music and global commitments they had to grow up a lot quicker than anyone around them
If not for anything else, the documentary reminds us just how much of a cultural influence The Beatles were, how their Scouse charm and humour broke down barriers and despite their humble roots (which are also explored) the quartet became a global phenomenon, the likes of which we may never see again.
Written by: Omar Malick
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week is out in cinemas from the 15th September 2016.