It is somewhat staggering how obsessed today’s current culture is with its own temporality, and the fleeting nature of stardom. Rather than burning for millennia, we live in an age where stars -with a few exceptions- are considered to burst across the sky in a sympathetically short span of time, that, although eye catching for the briefest of moments, soon disintegrates into nothingness. Tomorrow will bring something new that will eradicate what has come today. Within Eight Days a Week, director Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13) brilliantly demonstrates how even one of the world’s biggest and arguably greatest bands of all time, The Beatles, faced exactly the same fad-labelling sceptics.

When someone mentions the Beatles, it is easy to forget that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were once only considered to be four cheeky moptops from Liverpool. Howard’s direction, along with story consultants Mark Monroe and P.G Morgan, plays upon this and encourages the audience to fall back in love with the band as they would have been perceived back in the early 60s. We are charmed by their quips and playful banter; we are reminded that these are four human beings. The audience is situated, especially for the first 20-30 minutes of the picture, from within the band looking out at the literal mania that ensued around their meteoric rise. As a result, we, like the Fab Four, are swept away by the fandom, which seems truly terrifying. This is a documentary that is far from being a cold history lesson, and is instead a personal tale that brings back the humanity surrounding The Beatles.

Now, it is wrong to state that today’s society is ignorant to the Beatles’ success and fame. I mean they were “Bigger than Jesus” at one point. Therefore, it is rather refreshing to be immersed in a time when many believed that the band would not last beyond a year. Despite their unrelenting energy -realised brilliantly due to the restored footage- the documentary captures a sense of a forthcoming end, with many people believing Beatlemania would just cease to exist. Howard is always reserved with his reverence for the band, and the final product is something honest and in the moment. We understand that the band’s prolific nature, which saw them play 250 concerts within only 3 years, was promoted due to financial gain: with McCartney admitting that that’s the way they made money.

At first the bandmates seem to lap up the attention, with a sense of youthful enjoyment and vigour clearly captured through the selection of footage. Yet, as the stadiums expand, every square inch crammed with screaming fans, it appears that the Beatles’ ability to maintain a sense of identity is stretched too thin. After turning down a third feature film, and the deafening encounters with numerous stadiums throughout the 1966 America tour, we clearly realise that John, Paul, George and Ringo feel trapped in their roles as Beatles. Interviews with McCartney and Starr concerning what would be their last payed concert, indicate clearly that the band knew that the music -which they held to be an expression of themselves- was not being heard. Earlier in the documentary, manager Brian Epstein remarks that the iconic grey suits the band wore, which now permeate any fancy dress party, was an intentional choice to make fans see the band as one entity. By the end of the summer of 1966, it seems that had become a daemon that plagued the minds of all four band members: no one cared about what they produced, they could not hear it, they just wanted an idealised and outdated perception of The Beatles.

The true success of Eight Days a Week, is how the documentary clearly creates almost a folk tale moral surrounding the band. We are reintroduced to the band as four individuals, and as they grew in popularity we cheer at their success and feel sympathy for their crisis of identity. Howard offers an intimate study of human nature, compelling us, as these musical titans did, not to be contempt with success if it is not true to who you are as an individual. Hypothetically, The Beatles could have stayed on tour and continued to be just as prolific. Yet, they chose not to. They chose to be true to themselves, and as a result rather than fading into blackness, they will now burn for an eternity through their music.

4/5

Dir: Ron Howard

Scr: Mark Monroe, P.G Morgan

Featuring: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Brian Epstein.

Prd: Brian Grazer, Paul McCartney, Ron Howard, Nigel Sinclair

DOP: Michael Wood

Music: Ric Markmann, Dan Pinnella, Chris Wagner, The Beatles

Country: UK

Year: 2016

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week- The Touring Years will is released on 15th of September. You can book your tickets here: scnl.co/TheBeatlesTickets

By Greg Dimmock

Part-time English Undergraduate, full-time film buff... Maybe I made a mistake?