Directed by Ron Howard, this documentary not only has The Beatles’ timeless, fantastic music, but also gives us considerable insight into what made “The Beatles” so special, as well as the social zeitgeist of that time that turned them into a phenomenon, the likes of which we will surely never see again in our lifetime!
I was a junior in high school when my friend Neil told me that he had read about about a rock band from England, “The Beatles,” who were rumored to be “really good” (Neil is a master of understatement). I soon heard “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (December 1963) on the radio, and it blew my mind. I had never heard a song that great in my life! I bought “Meet The Beatles” as soon as it was released (January 1964) and wore out the grooves. After they were on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (February 9, 1964), there was no stopping them! I told my parents I wanted to quit my classical piano lessons and start taking electric guitar lessons. (They told me “No way!” because the guitar wasn’t in a symphony orchestra, and, therefore, wasn’t truly an instrument. If they had said yes, I probably would be dead now from a drug overdose)! One of my few regrets in life is that I didn’t attend their August 15, 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in NYC, only about 45 minute drive from my home in Long Island. (30 minutes of this concert is shown at the end of the film, having been digitally re-mastered.) The movie shows many complete songs, rather than just snippets, which I thought was a really good choice. In addition to interviews with the Beatles from long ago, there are also more recent interviews with Paul and Ringo, which provide insight into what they were all thinking and feeling at that time and how they view their journey now, in retrospect.
The film primarily covers the time interval between the release of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” through the release of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” (June 1, 1967), including the making of their two movies (“Hard Days Night” and “Help!”). We learn how important Ringo replacing Pete Best in 8/62 was to the band’s sound, the extremely hard work they put in, with their rigorous touring and writing tons of “Number 1” songs, what great friends they were, and how their unwavering support for each other allowed them to survive all the craziness. Their suits, long hair (unique at that time), good looks, great voices, and terrific “Marx Brothers”-like sense of humor also helped to propel them to the top.
The film is a “Must-See” for Beatle fans, and I am very grateful to Ron Howard for making it.