You know the words: “I want to hold your hand, i want to hold your hand!” That is exactly what this documentary on The Beatles’s touring years does as it guides you through a timeline of their best albums, their international concerts and other concurrent historical events that capture the zeitgeist of the era. Not much new can be said about The Beatles: they stand out in both the annals of music history and the hearts of millions of fans, and their iconography still influences popular culture. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, however, is not encumbered by the excess of information, but provides beautiful remastered footage and photographs of the fab four building their musical repertoire, one screaming fangirl at a time.
The narrative that the documentary is the universal appeal of The Beatles. The most popular image is the ecstatic teenage girls chasing after their idols, but by including testimonials it tries to include a larger fanbase. Seeing people enthusiastically talk about their love of The Beatles, the emotional reaction to their music and what they stood for makes it a joy to watch.
Eddie Izzard talks about the humor and boldness of the fab four, supporting the idea that they could make a connection with young and old with their kind of charming cheekiness to authority. Whoopi Goldberg shares her touching story about her love of The Beatles, by commenting that they seemed “colorless” to her. I thought it would have been interesting had the documentary touched more on how The Beatles did originally do covers of songs by black artists of the time, but then again the documentary itself did not focus too much on the actual process of music making, but more on the making of rock stars.
The audience is treated to a lot of stock footage of the fab four behind the scenes: enjoying their newfound stardom, playing concerts in packed stadiums and trying to maintain their artistic integrity while the world tries to pigeonhole them into being teen idols. Again, since it is not a very in depth look into their lives, the documentary shies away from anything too personal. It does court some controversy touching on Lennon’s infamous commentary on Jesus Christ and the ensuing burning of their records by christians, but for the most part it tries to maintain a light and friendly tone throughout.
The direction of the documentary steers into a more serious direction as The Beatles begin to experiment more with their music and step away from their clean cut appearance and venture into drug use and the avant-garde. The result for those who know how the band eventually dissolves and the tragedies that occurred decades later makes for a bittersweet experience while watching these artists evolve beyond their craft.
If you’re a Beatles fan, this will be a nice addition to the countless documentaries and detailed accounts on the band. The documentary itself is relatively safe and could also be a nice way to introduce novices to their music as it permeates through the documentary, hopping from each best selling album to their last performance on the rooftop in Savile Row which is bound to give anyone chills of excitement. As for myself, I did watch this with a friend who is a true connoisseur of The Beatles and she supplemented my own paltry knowledge with more information than the actual documentary provides. This made it clear to me that this documentary was really more of a love letter to the fans of the music and way to reaffirm the public image of The Beatles. Even for a casual listener of their music, I did leave with a greater appreciation for The Beatles and their contribution to music.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is out in theaters now and also available on Hulu.