Ron Howard directs the first major Beatles documentary since The Beatles Anthology in the nineties.
While Anthology is still the most definitive and damn well perfect account of the greatest band to ever walk the earth, Howard does a nice job culling footage snippets of the band during their short lived touring days, replete with screaming fans (one of them being Sigourney Weaver, who is seen in a crowd during vintage footage and in a present interview).
The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, participate with interviews, while John Lennon and George Harrison have a strong presence in archived interviews. As with Anthology, there’s no narrator, just the voices of the Fab Four either recounting those crazy touring days or commenting on them as they were happening.
The film focuses for the most part on their stretch as a live band. That stretch ended right before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, when The Beatles became a studio band and eschewed live performances. As the film demonstrates, that decision came about not because they didn’t love playing together, but because they were basically afraid for their lives.
Hardcore fans will be familiar with most of the interviews and performances, although you will see and hear some surprises. This film is actually a great starting point for any of you out there looking to get a little more serious in your examination of the band. Keep this in mind when you check them out: This band did what they did in just seven years. SEVEN YEARS. That’s how long it takes many current bands to put out one album. The many style and sound changes they went through, most of them anyway, are depicted in this film. They were the very definition of progressive.
Through all of the media, music, lifestyle, fashion and technological changes that have happened since the sixties, The Beatles have remained an amazing, lasting, non-dated entity. They were cool then, and they are cool now. They will always be cool, and Ron Howard is well aware of this.