Practically everyone is familiar with the story of The Beatles and their rise from the basement venues of Liverpool and Hamburg to unprecedented crowds of screaming fans. For those who weren’t there, however, what is left is a mere idea of what Beatle-Mania was truly like and an intellectual understanding of the insanity sans experience. Director Ron Howard (In the Heart of the Sea) provides an in-depth look into those early years of the band from 1963 to 1966, as well as their impact on the globe in The Beatles: Eight Days a Week-The Touring Years, a new documentary opening at the Center for Contemporary Arts a full two days before hitting its intended home at hulu.com.
Through found footage, hundreds of photographs, television/radio coverage and decades of sound bites and interviews, Howard weaves together one of the most intimate portraits of the Fab Four’s younger days that we’ve ever seen, and it doles out the feels in both jubilant and heartbreaking fashion.
It’s a story that outwardly showcases society’s sick obsession with fame or being famous, but that also examines the psychological toll taken on Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr in a riveting way. Certainly none of them were opposed to their fame at first, but as the years rolled by and the music creation began to play a secondary role to rabid curiosity and borderline psychotic fandom, we begin to understand why The Beatles eventually became studio hermits and ditched the live shows. Much of the real substance—or at least the consequence of fame—is saved for the final half hour, which is unfortunate despite the fun of watching four close friends take on the world. By the time we get to the famous Shea Stadium concert of ’66 (that’s the one that basically made ‘em quit), we can see exactly why they were burnt out, but Eight Days a Week doesn’t spend quite enough time focused on the actual impact their hectic existence had on their personal lives. It’s excellent to see how much they looked out for one another, and the soundtrack is obviously crammed with Beatles gold, but this one might not have major appeal to those who aren’t Beatle-maniacs or already know the tale. Eight Days a Week’s Thursday opening will run $20 a pop and benefit the upcoming Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. (Alex De Vore)
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years