Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Film Review: "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" (2016).

The tagline of the film reads "The band you know. The story you don't." This Beatles story is just that. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years. This is This documentary film directed by Ron Howard. The film is a compilation of found footage featuring music, interviews, and tells the stories of The Beatles' career and their 250 concerts during their touring years from 1962–1966, from their performances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool to their final concert in San Francisco in 1966.

The genesis of the film arose from Ron Howard's association with Nigel Sinclair who'd been an executive producer on Howard's Rush (2013). Sinclair, who produced his share of rockumentaries (Martin Scorsese's George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) and others), had been impressed with Howard's music documentary Made in America (2013), "a reflection of the fabric of what it means to be 'Made in America'...", and simply invited him into process. Howard's love affair with The Beatles began at age 10 when he first saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9th February 1964 (ep: The Ed Sullivan Show: Episode #17.19 (1964)). His first fan request was for a Beatle wig. The title of the film was named after the band's 1964 song of the same name. The song was released in December 1964 on the album Beatles for Sale. It went on to become one of the seven Beatles song to stay on top in the U.S. charts for a year. The inspiration of the song is an interesting story in of itself. The song's title was a result of happenstance for which Paul McCartney claims credit. McCartney had been banned from driving due to a speeding violation and while traveling to John Lennon's home in a chauffeur-driven car one day he idly asked the driver if he'd been working hard. The driver responded dryly, "Eight days a week".

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years is one of the best insights into one of the greatest musical giants, and the moments that defined a generation. The cast honesty contributes mightily to Howard's portrait of a group of artists more interesting than some of us may have realised. Seeing the film is like revisiting an old passion and realising the heat is still there. Despite director Howard mostly focusing on the band and its fans, trying to search for something elusive - something that only comes around once in a lifetime, the film suffers from the standard narrative associated in documentaries. It is a film that sheds a lot of light on its subject but at times can be a little too blissed out for its own good. Even though it's not a film one particularly expected to be made but it's a vastly welcome one. In the end, it is an essential documentary to the annals of music history. It is one of the great documentary experiences that shouldn't be missed.

Simon says The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years receives:

Also, see my review for In the Heart of the Sea.

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