The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years movie full length review - Not just baby boomers, but every generation to come
I normally shun making any personal references. But this is The Beatles that conjures up very personal memories for each and every one of us. Indulge me in my sharing one.
This was our high school teacher, a Mr. Chips type, in the late sixties. In the middle of a lesson, he complained about us not paying enough attention (what else is new?) "It was just yesterday that I taught you these", he exclaimed, and then burst into a spontaneous rendition, his own, of "Yesterday, all the lessons I taught have all gone away". This was one of the moments we all remember this beloved late teacher by.
The latest chronicle (focusing on "the touring years") from Ron Howard, while staying on a safe, charted course, has also something new to offer. Through interviews and footages, he starts with the phenomenal success of The Beatles, almost overnight, then backs up a little bit to show their humble origin from Liverpool. The one key point he drives home again and again is the solidarity of these four kids who are closer even than blood siblings. "I am the only son", says Ringo, "and all of a sudden I have three brothers". Then, very cleverly, director Howard uses the tailoring of their suits (so that they look like a respectable band) to symbolize and crystalize this unity: they become one, a "four headed monster". Later, it is emphasized that they are an institution of "four votes".
The best sequence in this film is what follows. We see how Larry Kane, reluctant at first in joining their U.S. tour, discovers the brave new world of The Beatles, music and all, a part of which he eventually becomes. Within that sequence, the best is the segment on the performance in the Deep South at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, where they insist that they will not sing to an audience in segregation. They win, showing the world that they are not just four pretty faces with four fantastic voices (yes, Ringo too) making beautiful music.
Parading through the chronology are backgrounds on the three movies (the last one never made), the tidal wave of success including the legendary Shea Stadium concert and their getting into more serious songwriting. Musically even more important but less spectacular in popular appeal is George's interest in Indian music which leads to the group's experimentation. They have also reached a point when they are no longer kids but four men each pursuing his own life.
Appearing in the film, in addition to people involved with them professionally, are from the audience's side reflections from two Hollywood celebrities, Whoopi Goldberg and Sigourney Weaver.
As an added bonus separate from the documentary is a special half-hour, re-engineered version of the Shea Stadium concert.
It would be difficult to say anything about The Beatles without sounding patronizing. My summary line says a lot. This film simply demands to be seen.