A Beatles documentary that only brings one day's worth of new information.
by Nathan Crawford
Staff Beatles Bro
Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years is a documentary about The Beatles that would be much better in a world that wasn’t already saturated with information about the band. This movie answers such pressing questions as: “Were The Beatles very popular?” and “Did The Beatles write their own songs?” It breaks no new ground. This film advertised itself as “The band you know. The story you don’t.” but fails to add anything to the narrative of The Beatles.
The truth is that Eight Days a Week is made for my dad. What I mean by this is that the film looks back nostalgically at a band that is personally important to so many, and this movie is centered on eliciting those feelings from people. It trades upon The Beatles’ charm and mines childhood feelings of joy. What this left was people in their seventies talking about how “parents just didn’t understand” creating an irony at the heart of the film.
It did not always make sense why the people being interviewed were being interviewed. It makes sense why there were interviews with John, Paul, George, and Ringo as well as historians or people on tour with them. That said, I don’t know why I listened to SIgourney Weaver and Whoopi Goldberg talk about how much they liked The Beatles growing up. Did the filmmakers imagine that I had no clue that people liked the band? And why did I need the star of the movie Alien to realize that?
In addition, I think that more information could have been obtained from the interviews. Malcolm Gladwell is interviewed in this film, and all he says is that The Beatles represented youth culture and kids were finding role models other than their parents. Here is a best-selling author known for his ability to look at situations in a different way from most, yet he is making one of the most humdrum and well-addressed points about The Beatles.
I was often left thinking that there was more in those interviews that would have been more interesting than what made the final cut. This is a common occurrence in the movie. It would touch on something interesting or new and then quickly move back to the banal as if nothing had ever happened. I feel confident that somewhere in Ron Howard’s (the director) basement is a 5 hour long version of this movie that would be far more interesting to see.
It also swerves away from parts of the story that might bother the more puritanical. There is plenty of news footage of women talking about how attractive The Beatles were, but no discussion of any Beatles dating or having sex. The only mention of drugs is in the discussion of the movie Help! The director of the film says that he saw them high on “marijuana” and it is quickly mentioned that they were partially high for most of the shooting. That’s it. Surely there was more to be said about drugs than this, but too much discussion of drugs and sex would have put off the desired audience, adults who miss the rebellion of their youth but disdain rebellion now. One of this film’s greatest accomplishments must be its ability to be so stodgy while covering a band that warred with that element in society. It accidentally hints at the great irony of Beatles fans growing up to look down on rap music.
I had high hopes for this movie. I like Ron Howard, but this documentary was made for the citizens of Mayberry and as a result it is thoroughly bland and predictable.