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:: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

The most celebrated and scrutinised group in music history once more falls under the spotlight in Ron Howard‘s suitably fab documentary. Focusing on the period from 1962 - when Ringo first joined Paul, John and George in the line-up - to the Beatles’ final bow at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in August '66, the film captures all the excitement, antipathy and exhaustion of the band's years on the road. Howard’s film looks almost exclusively at the active touring years, and attempts to cover the pressures the four were under to record and perform in the public eye, with the period covered effectively being one long tour.

The film is notable for the unseen fan-shot footage and some surprisingly underused newsreel that bring a welcome freshness to those familiar career milestones. The input of surviving members Paul and Ringo touchingly reaffirms the Beatles' brotherly bonds, Howard also attempts to add some specific historical perspective to the canon, and it’s also principally an American one. Howard and credited writer Mark Monroe draw parallels with the Civil Rights movement in the US, including the band’s refusal to play to a segregated audience in Jacksonville.

Of the handful of talking heads interviewed, an emotional Whoopi Goldberg offers a touching story about her mother scraping together enough money to take her to the Shea Stadium show. It would feel like a total non sequitur if it weren’t such an endearing story, but like many things in the compressed format, it’s given a perfunctory amount of screen time. Journalist Larry Kane recalls the dangers of being part of the touring entourage, and the likes of Sigourney Weaver share their experiences of being at the shows. Similarly, massive tour stops, such as the unprecedented 300,000 people that greeted The Beatles in Adelaide, are glanced over as a footnote.

The film is a compressed introduction for a new generation, albeit missing a few key moments, and the accompanying 4K restoration of the 1964 Shea Stadium gig looks and sounds amazing, perhaps giving us a far better glimpse at what being a Beatle on tour was really like. As a record of the roller-coaster years before they retreated into the studio, this is a must-see for every Beatles fan - and who isn't?

Note: This film will screen at Australian cinemas for one week only from September 16, 2016