There has never been anything quite as loud and frenetic in popular culture as Beatlemania. The phenomenon, which became evident as soon as the Fab Four embarked on a two-week tour of the United States in the winter of 1964, not only mobilised teenagers everywhere, but tested the artistic endurance of music that was still finding its footing.
In Eight Days a Week, director Ron Howard recounts the Beatles’ years as a touring group, from their initial commercial success in 1963 to their final official concert in 1966. Although offering beautifully remastered material of their live act, the film fails to use the material in a reflexive capacity, and is hence unable to flesh out any original ideas.
It begins with a gorgeously remastered excerpt of The Beatles playing to a sold-out crowd. The lushness of the color and clarity of the sound make the moment both incredibly immediate and somewhat frightening. Yet instead of honing in on the emotional complexity of the rise and global appeal of the band, the film rehashes an oft-told story and soon devolves into an exercise in nostalgia. It doesn’t help that the film reuses old footage in order to keep the narrative pacey. It also takes a fastidiously American-centric point of view, gratuitously interviewing celebrities like Sigourney Weaver. Ultimately, Eight Days a Week does little more than hold up a mirror to those short but intense touring years.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years | Directed by Ron Howard (US 2016) starring Ring Starr and Paul McCartney. Starts September 15