No matter where you are from, you know a Beatles song. The band from Liverpool have impacted popular culture and still make waves in today’s climate. Even in a lowly bar on the outskirts of some dusty city, a man may pick up a guitar and wail a (most often) off tune version of Hey Jude or Yellow Submarine. The mopped topped Scousers sit on the throne as one of the more influential artists of our time and it started in 1965.
Yet still, with all this love and admiration rolling around – complete immortality for the four men, two now passed on – there are secrets and unknown tales yet to be heard. In the hands of Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard, this stories come to big screen fruition as Eight Days a Week looks to tackle the first years of The Beatles being and the incessant touring that eventually became their undoing.
Starting with their early formation, Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years tackles life on the ever winding road thanks to their great success of with singles such as I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Love Me Do. Stirring all kinds of emotions in the hearts and loins of a young generation, the following pandemonium waved like no other before it. As England were wrapped in love with the singers, their concerts and fandom became an epidemic, soon infecting America with their jolly spectacle. Through celebrity stories, behind the scene tales, and interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the film shapes a story of four young lads whose cheeky humour and talent wrapped around world during the sixties – only to unravel and change them.
Documentaries, particularly about musicians, are usually played out in the same way. Live performances intertwined with photos, interviews, and celebrities throwing their two cents about the impact and admiration of the band on question. Howard’s adept filmmaking still treads on this familiar ground without straying too far from the formula. As insightful as the tales are (Whoopi Goldberg’s endearing first concert tale is perhaps the best here,) you kind of wish for more innovation and that’s only ever presented with fluid movement in still photographs such as a swirl of smoke.
Nevertheless, it is in uncovering the true Beatles beyond the symbols they have become such as the round glasses of Lennon or the illusive weird LSD era of I Am The Walrus that leaps Eight Days a Week into stellar territory. Whether its it witty banter bounced around to reporters or their hilarious behind the scenes tomfoolery, you begin to uncover the humanity within the musicians that has long been trapped behind albums and legend. Whilst the enthusiastic and jovial begins are sweet to watch, their easy downfall juxtaposes the rambunctiousness with the gluttonous public’s need to relish in a celebrities ever fibre. The transformation in Lennon, from the most vibrant to the most disjointed (that prompted him to write Help!), is the most alarming as are the reels of hapless fans causing themselves injury just to get close to the band. Eight Days A Week is much a damnation of this consumption of celebrity through press and fans as well as an intricate portrayal of the Fab Four.
Regardless of whether you like the Beatles, are indifferent to them, or loathe them entirely, Ron Howard has crafted an intricate portrait of the epitomes band. One thing is for sure, you’ll be humming Beatles melodies for a long time afterwards…
Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years premieres tonight!