Magazine article Screen International

'The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - the Touring Years': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - the Touring Years': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Ron Howard. US, 2016 102 mins

Ron Howard's documentary - the director's second, after 2013's Made In America - preserves the Fab Four in the amber light of nostalgia: happy, loving, funny comrades-in-arms, decent lads from Liverpool who wanted to be "toppermost of the poppermost". "By the end it became quite complicated, but in the beginning, things were really simple," says Paul McCartney. Howard takes a suitably straightforward approach, reassembling the Beatles dream through some revelatory archival footage, all with the blessing of Apple Corp and the survivors/estates.

Blasting the viewer out the door to that brilliant rooftop rendition of Don't Let Me Down, from what would become their final Let It Be album, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week may take an softer, more superficial approach when compared to Martin Scorsese's lengthy George Harrison doc, Living In The Material World (2011), or the Anthology project. And its assembly of talking heads can be perplexingly random. But calling out from the past in 5.1 surround sound - a world away from the tannoy system in Shea Stadium in 1965 - this infectious piece harks back to happier, sweeter times for the Beatles and for pop music in general.

With its deftassembly of archive and rudimentary home video footage - some colourised - this seems well suited to US streaming service Hulu where it bows on on September 17, after a light bounce in cinemas and selectede venues the day before. And although Eight Days A Week can take an outsider's, quite US-centric perspective, assuming only an entry-level Beatles knowledge, the approach could work in the UK for younger, curious audiences when it goes out simultaneously through Studi°Canal. The power of their performances certainly endures.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, doesn't dig particularly deep. Howard is positive, on forward-thrust at all times, moving towards a happy outcome when best friends John, Paul, Ringo and George concur not to pursue gruelling live performance in favour of the masterpiece Sergeant Pepper album. Touring was tough, posits the film: but they had their music and each other. Tough indeed: in four years they played 815 gigs in 15 countries and it pretty much destroyed them. Every close-up of a youthful, bubbling John Lennon as he harmonises with Paul McCartney can't help but poignantly amplify what Howard leaves unsaid. …

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