Posted Sep 15 2016

The Beatles Eight Days A Week The Touring Years- This Movie Defines Rocks

Dir: Ron Howard

Starring The Beatles, The World, Mania

With his Beatles doc, Ron Howard is, very simply, working with just about the best material available. And he’s always been a director who raises his game when the material is there to do so.

Howard’s film ran the risk of being the visual equivalent of the Red Album – a dash through the greatest hits of The Beatles’ early years, back when they were still touring, ignoring the deep cuts that carved an equal place in our hearts. Thankfully, Howard does much more than that, offering not only a treasure trove of archive (some familiar, much not so) but the benefit of standing outside of it all. His movie is clearly focused on both just how much of a cultural phenomenon the Fabs were – girls scream, the world shifts off its axis – but also on the insanity of the lives they lived through those early years. It was called “Mania” for a reason – look it up in the dictionary. Eight Days A Week manages to convey the delight of the moment, forever captured in aspic, but here viewed through the prism of hindsight. It takes nothing away from the delirious joy of “Yeah, yeah, yeah” but it adds a not often valued sense of perspective. It still makes you wish you were there, but it leads you to understand why you’re glad you weren’t one of them.

Paul and Ringo speak anew, John and George flitter through from beyond (and damn but isn’t it great to hear their voices again!) –time and again you just marvel at the sheer coincidence that these souls were lucky enough to stumble across each other. There are additional talking heads – Whoopi chimes in on civil rights, Sigourney was in the audience as a teen (possibly wearing a Beatle wig – difficult to tell from that haircut) – but it’s the archive that dominates here, including a brilliantly spruced up look at Shea Stadium, which, depending how you look at it, was either one of the worst gigs of all time (who could hear a thing?) or one of the greatest (who cares? – them’s The Beatles!!!)

And if that’s not enough – the footage here of Washington’s earlier I Saw Her Standing There sounds like the best punk-garage band you never heard –ever!! (Chuck in the rootop Don't Let Me Down at the end, and we're home.)

More than anything, Howard’s film captures a moment when the world changed, when it moved from black and white to a ridiculous palette of colour, and filters it through the eye of the hurricane that was just four young men. And finally - and at its finest - it shows us how something like this could never happen again.

This is a moment in history. Howard knows that. The Beatles know that. And watching this – we learn that.

Oh, and did we mention the music? Only two words for it – FUCKING HELL!!!


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