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Review – The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years


We all know The Beatles. We’ve all heard their songs and even if you are not a fan you know quite a bit about them. There have been many documentaries about the Fab Four over the years and now Ron Howard has brought us a new one. Don’t go expecting any secrets or major revelations about the band in this one, instead we get a fresh approach to old material along with many new interviews and unseen footage. Best of all we get remastered sound on footage of the band performing and some footage that has been cleaned up.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week looks at the bands touring years from late 1963 to August 1966. It opens with them singing “She Loves You” in Manchester, November, 1963, and goes on to follow them around the world. We get to see John, Paul, George and Ringo as young men who, even though they feel a bit out of their depth in places, are professional musicians who had paid their dues while playing in Hamburg and Liverpool. As Paul says they “were not an overnight sensation.”

As The Beatles have been around for such a long time and their music played everywhere, it is possible we have become a little jaded about them. However, this documentary takes a fresh look at them and it reminds us what an impact the band had on around the world.

We see the band playing and behind the scenes at the many concerts they played, along with TV appearances such as the Ed Sullivan Show. Their popularity led to nearly riotous conditions for their concerts and forced promoters into using stadium venues for the first time. It also looks at the bands decision not to play in segregated venues in the United States, a provision included in their contracts. Then of course we see some of the more controversial moments, such as John Lennon saying the band were bigger than Jesus and the repercussions of that. It is all moments we have heard before, but it is great to have it all put in to context and hear the members of the band talk about how they felt at the time. The footage has also been cleaned up so everything looks fresh and new.

Of particular interest to me are the various moments when celebrities talk about seeing The Beatles and the influence the band had on them – Sigourney Weaver talking about being at the first Hollywood Bowl show, and Whoopi Goldberg talking about what it was like at the Shea Stadium show.


There is also a great piece looking at the meaning behind the song Help! and I would have liked to have seen the same done for more songs. However, it is great to see the concert footage and hear it in all its glory. They have really done a great job remastering the sound. Some of the concert footage I had seen before, but all you could really hear were the fans screaming. For this new film they have made it possible for us to actually hear the band play!

There are lots of interviews with all four members of the band. Some I had seen before, but a few were new to me. There are also new interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, where they talk about their feelings about the various events and what happened behind closed doors of offices, hotel rooms and a meat truck.

All in all, this is a great documentary. My only complaint is that it loses focus a little near the end. If you are a big Beatles fan you will have already seen quite a bit of what is on offer here. However, the fact it has all been remastered means it is worth a look. Add in the new interviews and unseen footage then it is an essential purchase. Even if you are not a huge fan of the band, the film is still a great documentary looking at how four boys from Liverpool went on to change the world.


The 2-disc Deluxe Collector’s Edition (DVD/BD) also includes about 100 minutes of extras:

Words & Music (24 mins)
John, Paul, George & Ringo reflect on songwriting and the influence of music from their parents’ generation, Lennon/McCartney writing for other artists, The Beatles as individual musicians, and the band as innovators. Also featuring Howard Goodall, Peter Asher, Simon Schama and Elvis Costello. The interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.

Early Clues To A New Direction (18 mins)
A special feature touching on The Beatles as a collective, the importance of humour, the impact of women on their early lives and songwriting, and the band as a musical movement. Featuring John, Paul, George & Ringo, along with Paul Greengrass, Stephen Stark, Peter Asher, Malcolm Gladwell, Sigourney Weaver, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Curtis, Elvis Costello and Simon Schama. Again the interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.

Liverpool (11 mins)
The early days in Liverpool of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s are brought vividly to life by those who worked closely with them at that time including fan club secretary Freda Kelly, Allan Williams an early manager, and Leslie Woodhead multi-award winning documentary film director.

The Beatles in Concert (12 mins)
Five great but rarely seen full length performances of The Beatles live in concert – Twist and Shout, She Loves You, Can’t Buy Me Love, You Can’t Do That and Help!

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