With the help of Beatles past and present, Director Ron Howard and editor Paul Crowder have attempted to make sense of life under the blinding spotlight for one of the largest pop-culture icons of the 20th century.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is a film that aims to tell the story of four young boys from Liverpool, and their startling rise from lager soaked night-clubs, to sold-out stadium shows across the world.
For a group whose impact on Western culture is so tangible that their haircuts have since entered the public consciences as a well-known costume party entrant, The Beatles haven't had much left uncovered in their brief but prolific ten-year career.
Where Eight Days A Week shines is through the use of previously unseen (but otherwise already noted) footage and perspectives, from surviving Beatles and peers, to articulate and give life to an otherwise dusty chapter of rock-and-roll history.
Through unrelenting focus on the practical, working-blood of live touring that's behind bands both fifty years ago and today, the viewer is for the majority of the film, not left wondering if yet another Beatles documentary film is really necessary.
Broad enough to be a part of any band, but refined enough to steer the direction of the film, focusing on the four-year window of The Beatles' touring life, gives another potentially tired, fifty-year old discussion of Beatlemania a credence and context that justifies the nostalgic follow-up of a band from Liverpool's beginning, hysteria-ridden middle, and end.
In a cinematic landscape of movies and television that seem to be in a cultural stasis of period pieces and recreations, authentic footage of The Beatles playing during the early-to-mid sixties (that's as wonderfully shot as if it were filmed in the weeks prior to the film's release) breathes life into the film, and gives a glimpse into days long since passed, for both the band, and the cultural and social issues of the '60s that shared the earth with them.
Footage of the Liverpool lads' moppish hair glistens wonderfully in rich 4K, high-definition remasters of original 35mm film; concerts, such as the historic Shea Stadium New York City show that accompanies the film, are given a sense of direction and context through the film's specific, fixed angle.
The viewer is reminded that although over fifty years have passed since The Beatles stopped touring, their influence and relevance in music and pop-culture remains for good reason. In-tandem, in the fifty-plus years following the recording of Beatles concerts, footage shot on film cameras still stands up against its peers, enough to make the audience question whether the footage was filmed in 2016, with incredible period fashion and architecture of fifty years ago.
Ron Howard's look at The Beatles touring years is understandably trodden with footage of thousands upon thousands of hysteric teenage girls, a look at the chaos and fandom in cities across the world as they passed through (including a shout-out to little ol' Adelaide, as one of the band's biggest receptions — met with a suitable applause from our Rundle Street audience at the film's premiere), but intentionally avoids spending time dwelling on the myriad of influencing factors on the band's music, or ultimate departure from artistry.
Although Eight Days A Week avoids spending extensive time on the rise and fall of The Beatles, it does the job that it set out to do in its specific approach. The film gives novices to the group a reason to care, and rewards die-hard fans sitting through yet another Beatles doco' with a vibrant look at treasured footage of one of the past century's biggest cultural icons.
“It's not culture. It's just a good laugh,”
Paul McCartney, when asked the place of The Beatles in western culture.
Header Images courtesy liveforfilm.com; body image via Youtube.com