Four lads from Liverpool form a band, then conquer the known world with their music. This documentary covers the years 1962 to 1966.
What new is there to say about The Beatles? Not much, if Ron Howard’s documentary covering the years from 1962 to 1966 is anything to go by. Footage of screaming teenagers, jocular press conferences, the band on The Ed Sullivan Show — all are present, all are correct. And of course, as this is The Touring Years, footage of the band playing gigs, from The Cavern Club to Shea Stadium to Candlestick Park.
The film’s main strength is, of course, the Fab Four themselves. The music still thrills half a century on, so the concert footage is a constant delight (not something which would be the case in, say, a Nickelback documentary). And what the film doesn’t let us forget is just how charismatic John, Paul, George and Ringo all were, and just how well they sparked off each other — like the Gallagher brothers, just three decades earlier and without the aggro.
What works less well is the structure — particularly, the final part of the impossibly unwieldy three-part title. Concentrating on the Beatles’ touring years is fine in principle, as long as the focus is tight and there’s a specific narrative to tell. Instead, it’s just a general Beatles documentary, that covers all the major events before just… stopping. It doesn’t feel as though it reaches a natural conclusion.
Reliving The Beatles’ story is rarely time wasted, and that still proves to be the case here — it’s an entertaining 100 minutes. But there are other documentaries that cover the same subject matter. And do it far better.
A second tier Beatles documentary that covers all the important moments (at least until 1966), but fails to find a strong narrative. The music’s good though.