I have always loved the Beatles, and hearing that director Ron Howard was putting together a documentary on the Fab Four, I was even more excited. I had really hoped that I would get a chance to see it, since I do not live in an area that gets a lot of these types of films.
Then, I found out that it was to debut on Hulu, an online streaming service for which I did have a subscription. Excellent!
The documentary focused heavily on the band and the tours and performances that they played. It included plenty of footage from the actual tours and interviews with all four members of the Beatles.
Listening to the Beatles tell this story in their own words was fascinating. It is wonderfully edited together to tell this narrative beautifully. It is clear that Ron Howard worked to put this together as a fan of the band. There are many amazing images crafted together from the Beatles’ concerts through the early sixties.
There was not much in way of controversy. The biggest controversy that was included was John Lennon’s statement that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” The remainder of the documentary painted a picture of four young lads from Liverpool who were there for each other and who slowly started to be wore down by the constant expectations and admiration that were heaped upon them.
The film steered away from any implications that the band had internal strife, despite the fact that there was plenty. It was almost as if there was the character of the Beatles and they were four-in-one.
The most successful part of the documentary was the area that the Beatles excelled in: the music. Howard expertly continued to return to the Beatles’ music as a way to tie the film together. That alone made this an enjoyable film to watch. Listening to how the Beatles’ music changed from the early pop hit of the early sixties like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to the more spiritual and chance-taking music of Rubber Soul is a fascinating look at the evolution of a band.
The film only touched upon the drug use that the band underwent during this time period, having Paul McCartney speak a funny line when talking about filming the movie “Help” in the Bahamas.
One of the more interesting thoughts I had was how Beatlemania would not happen today in the age of social media. The haters would come out of the blue to post and tweet about the pop group from their early stages. I do not think we will ever see anything like the Beatles again because of how easy it is to access the performers these days.
Seeing the outright manic response of the crowds is amazing, even at Shea Stadium where the sound system was simply not effective for 56,000 people to hear a concert. Speaking of Shea Stadium, one of my favorite parts was an interview with actress Whoopi Goldberg, whose mother, despite their being poor, was able to get two tickets to the Shea Stadium concert. According to Whoopi, her mother did not tell her where they were going and was able to surprise Whoopi with the tickets outside of Shea Stadium. The joy of the memory could be seen in the teary-eyed adult eyes of Goldberg. It was displays of this kind of emotion where the documentary really hit.
There is not much analyzing going on here. The film is really more of a love letter to the Beatles and their fans, and, although I wouldn’t have minded a little more details into the trouble of the times (the use of some of the other aspects of the decade such as segregation and the Kennedy assassination were able to help show where the Beatles fell into the pantheon of the sixties), no one can deny the wondrous music and humor that the Fab Four generated.