The Beatles: The Touring Years: DVD Review
Beatlemania lives on some 50 years after the Fab Four hung up their touring boots with the one week only release of this documentary from former Happy Days actor Ron Howard.
Covering the period between 1963 and 1966, Howard's affectionate documentary about the life on the road may not prove much of a surprise to those who already know their Beatles lore, but he gets great cinematic truck out of displaying the lads' Liverpudlian cheeky charm to full comic effect as well as concert footage and screaming masses to relive the Beatlemania and its resultant euphoria.
With the ethos that they embodied the idea of how it would be to hang out with your mates, The Beatles' rise to fame is fairly reasonably charted with commentary from the boys themselves, as well as a few choice people from their inner circle - though tales of life on the road from those who accompanied them are limited only to journalist Larry Kane who offers a peek at life in the inner sanctum.
The thing is the documentary itself doesn't really provide any new ground and some of its choices of talking heads are perhaps bizarre and tenuous at best.
While Sigourney Weaver's attendance at the Beatles' Hollywood Bowl and companion footage give her credence, and Whooopi Goldberg's love for the mop-tops and attendance of their Shea Stadium show how inter-racial their appeal was, Eddie Izzard and Red Dwarf composer Howard Goodall are included for scant reason.
Using archival interviews for Harrison and Lennon are inevitable, but even interviews with McCartney and Starr add little to proceedings to be honest, given there's already so much out there about the group. It's all here again though - the screaming kids, the Bigger than Jesus controversy; almost as if another rote greatest hits package has been rolled out for a newer generation.
However, where Howard's more successful in breaking out of the workmanlike trappings of the genre is in the subtler touches. Whether it's painting a racial and more global picture of life when the Beatles hit America to demonstrate why their fame was so surprising abroad to animating cigarette smoke on stills, there are moments that impress greatly, even if the racial edges slow the verve of the film considerably down.
But there's no denying the blistering joy of some of their songs - it's hard to defy tapping along to the likes of I Saw Her Standing There and Help!as the live footage kicks in. With a fully restored 4K version of their Shea Stadium concert being presented after the film as a companion piece, there's no question that the Beatles phenomenon continues to live on in great style - and the film ends on an artistic high with some glimpses into the making of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Ultimately, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years is a greatest hits of the band and a compilation of their finest moments. It may not speak more to fans who are already immersed in their world and is as such a fanboy piece rather than a probing documentary.- it's more a brief Hello, Goodbye rather than an in depth Day in the Life Of