If you have been or are a diehard admirer of The Beatles, like myself, you won’t find much that is new in Ron Howard’s recent documentary despite claims to the contrary. There are a few pieces of footage here and there, but if you have watched the definitive, ten hour, Beatles Anthology, or any other of the many documentaries like the Maysles Brothers What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (1964), The Compleat Beatles (1982), the multiple releases of The Ed Sullivan Show performances or more recent works like Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) and The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006) along with the many bootleg copies of concert tapes that have surfaced over the years, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, even with the participation of Apple, brings little that you have not seen already to the table.
The film covers primarily the years 1963-1966 when the group were a musical phenomena like the world had never seen before. The concerts became bigger and bigger cumulating with the more than 50,000 fans screaming their lungs out at New York’s Shea Stadium. The group became tired of the concert rat race, not able to hear themselves sing and quit touring. They retreated to the studio where they would continue to evolve musically with each album, creating some of the greatest rock and roll music of all time.
By the time the touring ended in 1966, John, Paul, George and Ringo were no longer young lads from Liverpool, but men with families and different ways of looking at life. The group was no longer their number one concern and by 1970 they went their own ways.
There’s nothing wrong with Ron Howard’s film per se, it just breaks no new ground. Shedding information like the last time the four performed live together was during the making of Let It Be when they went up to the Apple Studio rooftop and sang a few songs, among them The Two of Us and Don’t Let Me Down, before being forced to stop by the police is not earth shattering news.
Howard does some stuff that is questionable like his use of some trick photography. There are a couple of still photos of one group member or another holding a cigarette and you can see the smoke is moving. It’s a meaningless gimmick, for sure, that does nothing to advance the film. Additionally, Howard colorized the black and white concert footage of the group’s first U.S. concert in Washington D.C. Colorization was and is always nothing but a cheap tactic that hopes to draw in younger viewers. Besides there are tons of other clips in black and white. That said, there are a few highlights like are really nice like the cleaned up sound and picture quality of much of the footage.
Beatles fans, who the film was obviously made for, will watch it. The casual fans will most likely find something new, but the true die-hards, the Beatlemaniacs, will find nothing new, just another film to add to their collection. Ron Howard was never an adventurous filmmaker. Like all his films, this one plays it safe.
Note: This will be my last post for the year. I want to thank everyone who has visited for spending some of your precious time here. I wish everyone a happy holiday, no matter which holiday you observe. No holiday to celebrate, that’s cool too. Peace and Love to All. See you next year!