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Film review: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is picture perfect

Ron Howard’s documentary of the few years when the Beatles still played live gigs includes amateur photos and clips lovingly stitched together, but offers few new insights into the Fab Four

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, 1:37pm

3/5 stars

A Beatles documentary is always welcome, even if, like Eight Days a Week, it offers few new insights and little in the way of unseen concert footage. Directed by Ron Howard in his usual picture-perfect style, the film tells the story of the Beatles up to 1966, the year when the band stopped playing live because they couldn’t hear themselves above the elated screams of their audience.

To cut to the chase, there is very little concert footage in Eight Days a Week that won’t be recognisable to the most casual of Beatles fans. It’s easy to predict what’s coming up next – the mop tops giving their all in their US debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, or that shaky footage in the Cavern Club before they hit it big.

But there is a concept behind Howard’s work: the film makes use of hundreds of amateur photos and film clips sent in by the public. These are usually shots of arrivals, fans, and incidental moments, but they are carefully and lovingly strung together.

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The film was produced by US streaming channel Hulu, and the American bias does throw up a couple of bits of unusual material. It’s interesting to hear the band railing against racial segregation, for instance, and disturbing to hear that, even back in the mid-’60s, they were worried about getting shot.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr talk about Beatles concert film Eight Days a Week

Beatles fans are in for an enjoyable, if unenlightening, viewing experience, while those who don’t know much about them will find it a Fab Four 101. In particular, people who own the mammoth Anthology television series have no pressing to need see this, but they’ll still enjoy it.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years opens on October 13

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