For those of us who weren’t around when The Beatles became one of the most successful rock bands in history, director Ron Howard takes us back in time to relive Beatlemania with The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years. The enjoyable documentary draws from over 100 hour of rare and unseen footage from news, fans and The Beatles’ private collection, with added interviews of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Howard focuses on the four definitive years of 1962 to 1966, during which the fab four first tasted fame and later got tired of the intense touring.
We revisit the band in their early days at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, quickly gaining global success after dummer Starr and manager Brian Epstein joined in. Deftly edited, the film shows how their musical talent, endearing humour and insistence to be inclusive during the civil rights movement made them a band like no other, inspiring future-celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Elvis Costello and Sigourney Weaver.
It’s clear that Howard was avoiding the controversial material that must have greatly shaped the members’ lives. George Harrison’s insecurities under the shadow of John Lennon and McCartney’s writing partnership was barely mentioned. Lennon’s claim that they were more popular than Jesus was portrayed as merely an incident to apologise for, when it was the beginning of a resentment against him that eventually led to his murder. Even their marriages, which happened during this time period, were not mentioned.
But as the band’s best hits blast on, remastered for better sound quality, it’s hard not to feel giddy alongside the 55,000 fans that filled New York’s Shea Stadium. The opening riffs of Twist and Shout are as infectious as ever, and with the screams of teary-eyed girls ringing in your ears, you feel transported right back to the middle of the electrifying hype.