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The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (DVD)
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- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Package Dimensions : 18.8 x 13.4 x 1.6 cm; 85 Grams
- Director : Ron Howard
- Media Format : DVD, PAL
- Run time : 1 hour and 46 minutes
- Release date : 23 November 2016
- Actors : Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono, The Beatles, Whoopi Goldberg
- Dubbed: : English
- Language : English (DTS 5.1)
- Studio : UniversalSony
- ASIN : B01N4TET9F
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Frequently bought together
Ron Howard directs this documentary which follows The Beatles during their touring years from 1962-1966. After quickly conquering the British music scene in the early 1960s, the band went on to play in front of sell-out stadium audiences all around the world. Featuring live performance footage and archive interviews, the film also includes insight from band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as they recount their experiences and memories from the time.
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Top reviews from Australia
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Director Ron Howard keeps the narrative of these happy days straightforward and easy to follow, intermingling archive footage of the Fabs in concert and interviews from the period(oh how we all wish there was more film of them pre-fab fame though), with contemporary accounts from Paul and Ringo, and voiceovers and interviews with John and George from when they were alive (along with a few other famous talking heads, who suitably and dutifully sing the Beatles praises but, Elvis Costello aside, add little to the movie, the insufferable, self-promoting Larry Kane being the worst example). As usual, John and George give great value in their comments, from the time and in the years after, witty and insightful, funny and forthright, while Paul does his usual bit of revisionism and air-brushing of the past-although Macca does seem to be more candid and genuine these days than he used to be, and it was nice to see him honouring the work Brian did to break the band, for without him, there is no Beatles story post-Liverpool. While Ringo goes along for the ride cymbal in his usual good-natured, down to earth way.
There are some serious and really interesting aspects to this documentary too, showing that it wasn't always about four lads 'aving a laff at the world's expense: it touches on the civil rights movement in America of the 60s, and the Beatles principled stance on refusing to play segregated shows in the South, a braver position to take than might be appreciated from today's perspective given how contentious and contemporary an issue segregation was even just fifty years ago, and the dark undercurrents of violence and genuine threat that were the counterpoints to giddy, fairy-floss Beatlemania, coupled with America's obsessive gun culture. Indeed, early on in the movie there is a telling juxtaposition of two news reports, one describing an early outbreak of Beatlemania in Britain, the other a sombre story on the assassination of JFK. And by 1966, the flipside of their fabulous fame was beginning to reveal itself in the worst possible ways: riots, death-threats, public pillorying and denunciation, along with the incessant pressure to perform to produce, to play the part of the Beatles,to the point where even with the aid of drugs and support of each other, it all became too much, too consuming and draining and the decision was made to quit the stage and the limelight and retreat into the safety and sanctuary of the studio, where many more musical masterpieces were too emerge.
But the darkness is only one part of the Beatles touring years, and thankfully only became really extreme in the last year of their life in the road. In the beginning, it was so much fun and such a breath of fresh air-you can see it in the way the Beatles are playing, playing up to the press and crowds, to each other and the world around them. They are having the time of their lives and in return gave many of us the time of our lives too. And it was wonderful to see Australia, and my hometown of Adelaide, receive a brief mention as the epicentre of the 64 Beatles hurricane (Beatlecane?) that swept up the world in its wake and woke many parts of it up as well.
The true Beatles, with Ringo in tow, lasted seven years, their international touring days a mere three. But in that frighteningly compact, pressurised bubble of concerts, craziness and classic recordings they created enough music and memories to probably last another eight hundred years at the very least. To happy days and nights, past and future, Ron we salute you sir.
Top reviews from other countries
By mid-August I was broke, totally out of cash, my allowance spent on the Beatles, Junior Mints and popcorn. My dad wouldn’t advance me more money, so I started mowing lawns in the neighbourhood and asking neighbours if their cars needed washing, a request which met with disdain or amusement. I scraped together another dollar and went three or four more times. I didn’t mind hearing young girls in the theatre screaming at the movie screen and singing as the Beatles sang. I sang too. It was the most exciting thing that had ever come to our town.
The Beatles were the strangest, most exotic, beautiful and magical people I had ever laid eyes and ears on. I couldn’t believe it. They came out of nowhere. For the longest time the world had been as it always had: school, homework, baseball, etc. But then it changed, basically overnight. Now with Beatles in the world it could never be the same again.
Growing up all I ever heard from the adults was how great America is and how lucky I was to be in it and of it. Looking around that sounded like malarky to me and besides I wondered how many Americans had ever been to Patagonia, Transylvania, Borneo and other out-of-the-way places by way of comparison. Very few, I reckoned. The Beatles confirmed it: I didn’t know anyone who had ever been to Liverpool or even to England. But I would go. I knew for sure that summer I eventually would. I knew it must be great. The Beatles come from there, so of course it has to be. They even call it Great Britain. It was like I finally understood something for myself for the first time. The Beatles made me love England. They turned me into an Anglophile long before I knew what the word meant. “All my loving,” they said to me. I knew it was meant for me because I heard it. They wanted me to come to England, so I did and it was great, truly great. I lived in London, not Liverpool, and was never disappointed and didn’t get homesick. For the first time in my life I felt part of the world, not just a small part of America. It was liberating. I was living in the land that made “A Hard Day’s Night”.
The Beatles arrived at a really good time too in America. Somebody had stupidly shot our President dead the previous year. True story. If America was so great, why do that? My theory was simple but right in my childish mind. They were jealous. JFK was handsome and had a beautiful wife. He was young and intelligent and spoke with a cool accent (from Boston). If he’d been British he would have come from Liverpool, I reckoned, because many Irish come from there, including John Lennon’s family. Boston and Liverpool were better than Granada Hills, my hometown. The Beatles made me feel like a hick.
The Beatles also came to cheer us up. They were funny, witty, fresh, charming. They were also cheeky and irreverent but I didn’t know words like that back then. You couldn’t take your eyes off them when they were speaking and they always had something comical to say. Brian Epstein, their manager, booked them to play on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York. So that’s where they arrived first in America — in New York. In their first press conference at the airport an American reporter asked them if they would get haircuts while in America. They shook their heads like they do on stage, but this time without squealing. Then George said into the mic, “I had one yesterday”. Everybody cracked up. That was who they were, the spirit of the Beatles alive and well at their very first press conference.
Another word I didn’t know back then when I was 13 was ‘unpretentious’. They were that too. I knew the word ‘fresh’ and knew they were that, but ‘unpretentious’ is more nuanced.
Two days after the Ed Sullivan Show another American reporter asked Paul directly:
“What place do you think this story of the Beatles is going to have in the history of Western culture?”
Paul: “You must be kidding with that question. Culture? It’s not culture.”
Reporter: “What is it?”
Paul: “It’s a laugh.”
I loved Paul for that, and still love him for many other reasons.
The following year, 1965, after the Beatles had truly conquered America the British establishment finally woke up to the news. Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister, was always trying to weasel his way into the limelight for attention. The Beatles, to their credit, had never heard of him, or claimed not to know who he was. But Harold got the swell idea to nominate the lads for MBEs, an award usually reserved for military men. He could then hog the cameras with the lads and bask in their reflected glory. So that’s what he did, congratulating himself and the Queen for going along with the plan. After the awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace a reporter asked the lads:
“Have any of you any ambitions left at all?”
Silence, but one soon broken by Ringo:
“I’d like to be a duke.”
They laughed. I did too. But I wonder if the reporter did. I love Ringo. He couldn’t write songs but he kept the backbeat going and was the best actor among them, his little vignette along the riverbank in “A Hard Day’s Night” a classic of its kind. Then of course “The Magic Christian” with Peter Sellers, a hero of Ringo’s (and of all the other Beatles) from the Goon Show days with Spike Milligan.
But John was the cleverest wit of all. Was he a poet? If not, a punster, a lover of wordplay, the Lewis Carroll of the Beatles. Who else could be the Walrus or see Lucy in the sky with diamonds but him? Paul wrote “Penny Lane” which is upbeat, fun. But John wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever”, which does indeed have a feeling of immortality about it. I’ll always love John. He may have had anger issues and demons from his Liverpool days, but what he wrote and sang and did were great gifts to the world. If not, why is the music still so fresh? “Abbey Road”, which just turned 50, sounds like it was made last week.
Many step up to the plate to testify to Beatle greatness in this documentary. Elvis Costello, a fellow musician, does. Whoopi Goldberg, who saw the lads perform at Shea Stadium in 1965, does too. So does Sigourney Weaver, who screamed herself hoarse as a teenager at The Hollywood Bowl when the Beatles played there. Scores of others as well. They tell us what the Beatles meant and mean to them.
I doubt a better documentary on the Beatles can be made, as this one does something no other film has previously done. It takes us into their small, intimate, claustrophobic world. From the outside we see all the glory and glamour. But alone in hotel rooms together with handlers (agents, roadies, management, et al.) we see the gilded cage they live in, their isolation and loneliness, or a sort of loneliness or homesickness. For what? For kippers, chips, pints and tea in the afternoon; for girls that are called birds; for jokes that are understood; for Old Blighty itself. We forget how young they were, barely into their twenties, and how small the world they came from was, and how quick and astonishing their success was not only for us but especially them.
They were warriors, road warriors for sure. They held up. They survived. Of course they argued, sometimes passionately. But it never came to blows and Paul tells us why. It’s because the Beatles weren’t John Lennon and the Beatles or Paul McCartney and the Beatles. They were just the Beatles, all four of them, a great fraternity where equality ruled. It always took four votes to do anything and their democracy worked much better than those in many countries do. They had each other. Hank Williams only had himself. Elvis too. Those artists were on their own. The Beatles never were until much later, until the Sixties were gone.
Things changed with the death of Brian Epstein in the Summer of 1967. Brian, the fifth Beatle, held everything together. “Sgt. Pepper’s” was made when Brian was still living. But after that L.P. things began to unravel. Less discipline, more infighting. The film doesn’t go much beyond 1967, but we know what will happen. The White Album was not a collective so much; more like a desultory collection of individual contributions. “Abbey Road” has more coherence but it’s a road that will dead end soon after “Let it Be” is released, the true end of the line. Apple Corps, Yoko, intense conflict will come later.
The film is fresh, just like its subject. But it doesn’t suggest a time of innocence. We know about the background in America and elsewhere, including Britain. The racism of America is not glossed over, nor the violence there (assassinations, the Vietnam War, the atrocious behaviour of the government toward Muhammad Ali). But the focus is on the music, the men who made it and the effect it had on millions — an effect so tender and intimate that the memories of individuals merge with the memories of an entire generation of people all over the world. The Beatles changed millions of lives, including my own. So much so that I can barely conceive of the life I would have had without them.
On that note a new film by Danny Boyle is due out soon. The title: “Yesterday”. The theme and premise: a world (the Sixties) in which the Beatles are not present, never existed. Try to imagine that. But maybe now I don’t have to. I just have to watch the film to see how empty the world is without the Fab Four in it. Fab indeed. They were fabulous. If you don’t believe me, watch this wonderful documentary for confirmation of it.
Back to the present - over the intervening years, I grew to like and admire a lot of what the Beatles had put out, mainly Revolver thru Sgt Pepper and Yellow Submarine, but by the time of Get Back and Lady Madonna, I had discovered other bands more to my liking . .but still a Stones fan throughout! So, more aware of the Fab four & certain albums have found their way into my music collection as true classics.
But this film by Ron Howard is an absolute must: if, like me, your Beatles knowledge is a bit sketchy from that era then this does fill in a lot of background, pressure, comradeship and endless touring and playing when, for the most part, audiences consisted of a lot of screaming adolescents and a special 100watt amp just made no difference, so no music heard at all for the most part! This film drops out a lot of the hysterics and weeping and crying etc so I have heard the music live for the very first time . . . and it is cracking good rock 'n' roll ?rock from a time when music was just breaking out for a whole new generation!
So, essay over; this is worth every penny and each minute throughly entertaining! (My only gripe is, at the age now of 65, my hearing is not as perfect but when trying for subtitles, said 'not available' yet apparently are by what is on the sleeve of the dvd.?!)
My only disappointment with main film is that it has restored and sometimes colourised some fab performances, but cuts them short by failing to show whole songs. Would love to have seen two or three whole songs from such gifs as Washington, Shea Stadium or television shows. Otherwise extremely informative movie.
The packaging itself though is truly incredible. Anyone who is thinking of getting this I say get the special edition box as you get such a nice design and a beautiful book with it. If you would like to see more there is a video on YouTube by rockboy680 where you can see him go through this beautiful blu Rays packaging.
This is one of the nicest looking blu Rays I have ever received and is one of the most fun documentaries I have seen on it so I highly recommend.