Every time a new film or book about The Beatles is released nowadays, promising a fresh perspective on the story, one of the first things that comes to mind is, “Will we really learn anything new from this?” Furthermore, is there even anything left to learn? Ron Howard’s new documentary film, which focuses on the band’s touring years up to 1966, manages to tell a familiar tale in an exciting way. It’s easy to tell that this film has been a labour of love for Howard, and it’s sure to generate an immense feeling of love for Beatles fans everywhere watching it.
New interviews with Paul and Ringo combine beautifully with archive ones from John and George, and it really gives you the feeling of the whole band telling the story. There are also insights from those who knew and worked with them, such as journalist Larry Kane who joined them on tour in America, and well-known fans like Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg and Sigourney Weaver. Hearing about the experiences of world famous celebrities as young, teenage fans is heartwarming and something we can all relate to.
One of the great joys of this film is the quality of the live footage. It looks and sounds fantastic, and considering the high volume of screaming that took place, this is a great achievement. We are often reminded that The Beatles struggled to hear themselves play, yet they still managed to sound amazing. Dedicated fans will be more than familiar with the Shea Stadium footage, but to see the entire concert in its restored form (as shown in cinemas directly after the film itself) is still magical.
The film paints a vivid picture of what the touring experience was really like, and it’s not difficult to understand why they became so tired of it all in the end. It also made me think, as a younger fan, just how exciting it must have been for those who were around to witness it all as it happened. As I left the cinema, I felt like I had just fallen in love with The Beatles all over again, if such a thing is even possible when you’ve already been in love with them for your whole life.
You may sit down to watch this wondering how much you’ll already know, but you will leave with a fresh reminder of how truly wonderful it all was, and that can only be a good thing.