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The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

Ron Howard’s documentary shows excerpts of Beatles live shows from 1963 to 1966, the year when the band decided not to perform in public anymore. The film also chronicles the band’s story during the height of Beatlemania.

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50 years ago The Beatles stopped performing live and strictly became a studio band. The idea that a new Beatles film would focus on the time when the band played live is feasible now because of the wealth of material and today’s digital technology and remastering techniques. EIGHT DAYS A WEEK is a typical retro doc in which celebrities talk about how relevant the band was for them, a concert film, and a new interpretation of the band as an archetypical pop phenomenon. What is paradoxical about EIGHT DAYS A WEEK is that the film is supposed to tell the story of failure, but in reality more fan hysteria was looming. The Beatles were a club, garage, and basement band in the early years. 292 out of the 815 shows they had between 1963 and 1966 took place in the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Unfortunately there are only relatively short clips from that time in the film, probably also because a lot of the repertoire was made up of covers and the film only includes music from The Beatles.
Planting a garage band onto a stadium is not a good idea, to put it mildly. You can remaster as much as you want, even The Beatles don’t sound very good on big stages and TV studios. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to see them stumble through versions of “Yesterday” and “Nowhere Man” with screeching fans everywhere. It’s admirable that the band could play live at all, considering the circumstances. Ringo Starr talks about looking at the boys foot taps in order to know which song they were playing.
EIGHT DAYS A WEEK goes through the familiar stations of their career: the Ed Sullivan Show appearance, the Richard Lester films, the “bigger than Jesus” episode, and so on, but director Ron Howard (FROST/NIXON, RUSH) also succeeds in capturing The Beatles as a product and a symptom of the times. Brian Epstein put them in cute suits and Chelsea boots (Paul McCartney called them “Beatles Boots”), the friendly love songs in the first records aimed at very young girls, the typology of the band members (Paul: cute, John: smart, George: shy, Ringo: quirky), the humor, the quick wit and the contradictoriness of the band which surprised respectable adults and appealed to the growing rebellious spirit of a developing youth culture. The Beatles were a perfect brand and stood for authenticity at the same time, a combination which marketing agencies dream of to this day.
The band’s development is why their success was sustainable: from naïve love to disillusionment to complicated relationships and increased social awareness. A similar narrative power wouldn’t be possible in the more diversified pop genre that came after. In the past decades, Madonna and Kanye West have come closest to creating such arcs for themselves. EIGHT DAYS A WEEK is essential viewing for Beatles fans but it could also be interesting for people who aren’t interested in mom and dad music.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

USA/Großbritannien 2016, 120 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Ron Howard
Author: Mark Monroe
Distributor: STUDIOCANAL
Cast: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon
FSK: 6
Release: 15.09.2016

Website

Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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