The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Over the years, many Beatles documentaries have been made and one could be forgiven for wondering why the world needed another. However, after watching Ron Howard’s latest fact-based feature, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, one is left in no doubt as to its value.
The film documents the band in the years 1962–1966, charting their astronomical rise to fame from the dingy Liverpudlian cellar gigs they started off with to their final stadium concert in San Francisco. The story is told through what is an impressive breadth of footage, ranging from TV interviews to fan-filmed material from the period, which has been re-mastered to an excellent quality. Furthermore, the graphics are slick and blend in well with the older footage, and there’s a particularly clever trick to watch out for with the cigarette smoke in some of the still photographs used. The narrative is pushed along through exchanges with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with a host of star-cum-fans such as Richard Curtis, Eddie Izzard and Whoopi Goldberg.
But what is new about all this? The true success of Eight Days a Week is how it puts the Beatles’ musical trajectory and the Beatlemania of the 1960s into a historical context whilst also evoking the human story behind the “four mop-heads”. This balancing act means there is something in the documentary for both hardcore Beatles enthusiasts and those simply curious to know more about the quartet, what they did, and who they were. Howard does a fantastic job of curating the personalities of the individual group members in their youth in a very lively, compelling manner, particularly through the use of audio recordings of the band members’ conversations whilst in their studio sessions. Indeed, do not get up to leave as soon as the film ends – it is worth sitting through the credits to hear a particularly charming recording of the four men thanking their fans (and a rendition of Old King Wenceslas).
Although Eight Days a Week is not going to tell any dedicated followers anything they didn’t know already, it depicts the Beatles in a way that momentarily takes them off their iconic pedestals and allows the audience to see them as the young, unwitting men they were before and during their rise to the top of the world, and it’s a delight.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is released nationwide on 15th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years here: