On the road with The Fab Four

New Beatles documentary chronicles their touring years

By Courtney Meloche, Staff Writer

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years is a new documentary on the Fab Four slated to hit select theaters on Sept. 15.

Focusing primarily on the years 1964 to 1966, this Ron Howard-directed film takes a story that many people know and delves deeper.

“The biggest challenge is that a lot of people have told the story and a lot of people know the story,” acknowledged editor Paul Crowder at a Q&A following an advanced screening at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills on Sept. 7. “You want to make sure you’re telling it in a unique way.”

Jeff Jones, CEO of The Beatles’ company Apple Corps, followed by saying Eight Days A Week is the first true in-depth exploration of The Beatles’ touring life.

Featuring new interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, archival interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison (through co-operation with their widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison), and featuring never-before-seen live footage of the band, as well as rarely-seen television appearances, this film is visually stunning.

Sometimes in documentaries, the archival footage is grainy, damaged, faded, or otherwise hard to see. This footage is pristine, meticulously restored to 4K to produce some of the highest-quality video of the Beatles ever seen. The footage is a result of a treasure hunt to the millions of Beatles’ fans around the world who sent video they had stored in closets and under their beds for years.

Along with the incredible visuals came the vivid sound. Giles Martin, son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, led the team that remastered the live tracks at Abbey Road. The audio comes largely from soundboard recordings, so you can clearly hear what the band is playing over the hordes of screaming girls. These elements come together to give the viewer the next-best feeling to being at a Beatles’ concert. Particularly special was a live performance of their hit, “Help!”  The clarity of the footage and sound brings Lennon’s sense of urgency to the forefront as he sings.  He truly is asking for “help” as the Beatlemania was growing increasingly out of control.

And then there is the story itself. Touching a bit on their roots at the Cavern Club and in Hamburg at the beginning of their career, the film follows them through the excitement of their first two American tours, the creation of their films ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Help!’, their first stadium tour—the first stadium tour in history—and more until 1966, when they decided after performing at Candlestick Park in San Francisco to stop performing live and just make records.

All the while, the film explores the cultural thumbprint that the mop tops from Liverpool left in their wake. Particularly moving is an anecdote by historian Kitty Oliver about attending a Beatles concert at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. The Beatles refused to play if the show was segregated like organizers intended. The stadium flipped their policy–The Beatles performed and many other stadiums in the South lifted their policies that kept blacks and whites separated.

See the trailer here, and check out http://thebeatleseightdaysaweek.com for a list of theaters and dates where the film will be screening. The theatrical presentation will be followed by digitally restored footage of The Beatles’ legendary Shea Stadium concert.

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