You’d think that every story about The Beatles has been told, explored and extrapolated upon over the last half century. In truth, they probably have, but Ron Howard’s 2016 documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years makes it all seem very, very new. There’s much to enjoy here for fans of the Fab Four, but new converts will be impressed by the plethora of tales on hand from famous fans (like Sigourney Weaver and Whoopi Goldberg) as well as new interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and archive footage of John Lennon and George Harrison.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week puts the focus on the years from 1962 – 1966 when The Beatles went from playing the Cavern Club to becoming the biggest band in the world. Howard’s film shows how much fun they had and how things eventually became too much for them. On the surface it might seem great to play music to 30,000 screaming fans, but it must be really deflating to play knowing that absolutely nobody is listening to you. We learn how they delved into drugs and experimental music as a way of dealing with (and avoiding) the stress of it all.
The Beatles Anthology series will likely always be the final word on the band, but Eight Days A Week holds its own as a documentary. It plays with a nice condensed time period, offering enough detail and anecdotes to keep viewers entertained. It’s great to see Paul and Ringo look back on the time today and it’s clear they enjoyed their camaraderie – but they also talk about how difficult it was to be pulled in every direction by the press and fans alike. There was no precedent for this, they created the rules for the modern pop-star: from how to play a stadium gig to playing the media game.
Jammed with archive footage, live clips, talking head interviews and the type of access and funding that few documentaries on The Beatles could even dream of – this might just be the final word on The Fab Four. This is great stuff it’s definitely worth checking out – you don’t want to Let It Be.