The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (2016)

casey It has been 48 hours since we saw Eight Days a Week and I’ve been humming Beatles songs more or less nonstop since then.

brooke And I’ve been outright singing them.
(as you know, since we live together and stuff)
I certainly didn’t need any kind of rekindling of my love for The Beatles, but this documentary definitely stoked the flames of my undying love for this band.

casey I don’t know that I have a lot to say about the film, except that you’ll probably love it in about the same proportions as you love the music–in particular, the early 60s tunes when the Beatles were touring the world and permanently damaging the high-register vocal chords of teenage girls everywhere. I like The Beatles, and I liked this movie.

brooke Yeah, if you don’t enjoy their music, you should probably just walk away from this review now…
So The Beatles: Eight Days a Week is a documentary that covers the touring years and live shows performed by The Beatles, from the Liverpool Cavern Club in 1961 up through their final touring performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966. Using footage of old interviews and present day snippets from Ringo and Paul, the film goes through all of those years and shows pieces of everything they had, including loads of archival press conferences, interviews, and behind the scenes stuff.

casey There’s not really any new information here for long-time fans who’ve soaked in a lifetime of Beatles trivia. I consider myself a committed but by no means hardcore fan, and nothing in the documentary’s narrative felt new. Likewise, its nods to the broader context of the 60s–the civil rights movement, the JFK assassination–feel a bit perfunctory. The real focus in Eight Days a Week isn’t the band or the era, it’s on the experience of the Beatles, the feeling of being at those shows, or in the recording studio. Director Ron Howard spends ample time on live recordings and studio outtakes, with interviews playing a decidedly secondary role.

brooke I loved seeing the four of them just being kids in their late teens/early 20s. The way they interacted as a group is so entertaining, and a lot of the footage feels like they’ve invited you up to their hotel room to hang out.

casey You get hints of the character and creative conflicts that would later tear the band apart (and generate some of its creative peaks), but you’re right that the narrative focuses more on the band’s unity and friendship. It’s basically a love letter to the early and mid-period Beatles.

brooke That’s the perfect way to put it. It’s a love letter. Ron Howard’s beautiful, huge music geek love letter.
Maybe some will think it’s too rosy of a view of the band, but they really did stick together for the most part. The early days don’t have much of the conflicts you allude to; that time is mostly four young guys taking on the world and surviving together. I loved when Paul talked about sitting down with John to look at his lyrics for Help! for the first time and getting it immediately. They were facing a level of adoration (and the weirdness that comes with being adored so widely) that no other group had seen before, and the film does a great job of showing it.
It also made me want to scour the internet for antique Beatles shirts.

casey It’s also best seen in theaters, or somewhere with a good sound system and no distractions, so you can focus on the music. The theatrical release also includes a bonus  edited and remastered version of The Beatles at Shea Stadium, a 1966 release recorded during at the height of Beatlemania. It’s pretty neat, is what I’m saying.

brooke It really is. All the footage from their shows was remastered for this movie and it’s about as beautiful as 1960s footage can be.
And all the interviews they got were fantastic–I especially loved one story that Whoopi Goldberg told about her own Beatlemania and the chance she had to see them. There is so much love for the band and their mark on the world, and it’s fun to sit down and celebrate them properly.

casey If you’re looking for the inside dirt on the Beatles or any sharp social commentary, you won’t find it here. But as a musical nostalgia trip for fans (even ones who, like us, were’t born when they played), Eight Days a Week is great.

brooke I don’t know if we’re conveying *how* great it is, but if you like The Beatles, you need to see this movie.


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