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

Photo Credit: Hulu

Every few years something comes along that brings The Beatles back to the pop culture forefront.

In 2006, the group launched the Cirque du Soleil show, LOVE, in Las Vegas (it’s still selling out). 2010 marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic murder, four years later it was the 50th anniversary of their legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Now, it’s the Ron Howard-directed documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, that has Beatlemania up and running again.

Through archived interviews with deceased band members Lennon and George Harrison along with new sit-downs with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Howard lets The Beatles themselves tell the story of their phenomenal rise to the top of the music industry, which continues to interest fans half a decade later.

Howard’s take on the Fab Four focuses largely on their tours across the globe (hence the title) and strays from the larger biography of the group (there is no mention of their highly publicized breakup).

Their well-documented shows at Shea Stadium in New York and San Francisco’s Candlestick Park are explored again, but so are lesser known (or, perhaps, forgotten) stops such as the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL where The Beatles refused to perform until they were assured the crowd would be desegregated (it was, and they played).

It was their inclusive mentality that gained them a young fan from New York named Whoopi Goldberg. The Oscar winner is among the celebrities interviewed in the film (the others being Eddie Izzard, Elvis Costello, and Sigourney Weaver) who speak about the impact The Beatles had on their lives. Goldberg even gets choked up telling the story of how her mother surprised her with tickets to the Shea Stadium concert.

It’s that kind of personal touch that makes Howard’s documentary so endearing to the viewer, especially those baby boomers who grew up listening to the lads from Liverpool in the 1960’s.

The exhaustion that comes with being the most popular musicians in the world comes through in the film, and it’s understandable when they start to rebel (using drugs, for example) when the pressure of performing live gets to them.

When The Beatles are in the studio and creating new music, they’re completely at ease. If there is one area that I wanted to see explored further, it’s the behind-the-scenes creation of their hits. What we get in the documentary in that regard is gold.

Eight Days a Week shows the unity between John, Paul, George and Ringo. There’s never a hint of dissension, and they make it clear that no decision was ever made without the approval of all four of them. If there were rivalries amongst them during their run, they did a great job of hiding it.

The most amazing aspect of The Beatles is the impact they made in such a short amount of time. The sheer number of albums and songs they created in less than ten years is staggering and their touring years only lasted for three years.

From 1963-1970 they produced roughly two albums per year, most of them reaching number one on the charts.  That kind of quantity and quality is unheard of in today’s music landscape.

They don’t make them like they used to.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

Directed by Ron Howard

Featuring interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon (archive footage), George Harrison (archive footage), Larry Kane, Richard Lester, Whoopi Goldberg, Elvis Costello, Eddie Izzard, Sigourney Weaver

97 minutes

Now streaming on Hulu