The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

"Very Good"

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Review


A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which offers an inside look at Beatlemania, the three years when the best pop band in history toured the world. The messy title is a hint as to how compromised this film is: it's not a proper journalistic look at the band, but rather an approved portrait with the rough edges removed. But with its never-seen footage and lots of great music, it can't help but be hugely entertaining.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr spent years developing their sound before they hit the big time. And when they set off on their first tour in 1963, things immediately went crazy, with unprecedented displays of fan adoration. Fans couldn't get enough of these cheeky young guys from Liverpool, and their irreverent antics during interviews further endeared them to their audience. As they embarked on their first major tour of America, young journalist Larry Kane was sent to accompany them. Initially annoyed at this fluffy assignment, Kane was won over by their talent and the way they stood up to segregation laws in the South. But by 1966, they found that playing concerts in stadiums was simply too exhausting (they couldn't hear themselves above the screaming), so they abruptly stopped performing in public. The rest of their career took place in the studio.

All of this is recounted in a terrific range of home movies, archive footage, snapshots and interviews from the time, plus present-day recollections from Paul and Ringo. Added to this are interviews with celebrities who as children saw them perform, artists who worked with them and historians who examine their talent and impact. With access to this kind of material and a skilled editing team, Howard creates a film that's energetically gripping, offering a perspective on the Beatles that we may not have seen before.

But there isn't anything we didn't already know. And there's a strange refusal to offer the whole picture. There's no mention of sex, for example, as if teenage musicians never even thought about that kind of thing even with thousands of willing young fans throwing themselves at them. And a passing comment about marijuana is the only mention of drug use. In other words, the movie never feels like it's giving us the full story. But at least the footage is fantastic, from backstage antics to on-stage performances, offering new angles on iconic events like their 1966 Shea Stadium concert. And assembled this expertly, the film is a vivid exploration of just why the Beatles deserve to be called the best pop act of all time.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for The Beatles: Eight Days A Week:



The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Production compaines: Imagine Entertainment, Apple Corps

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Paul McCartney as Himself (archive footage), as Himself (archive footage), as Himself (archive footage), as Himself (archive footage), The Beatles as Themselves (archive footage)

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