I’m a pretty hardcore Beatles fan. Or, at least, I used to be. In middle school and high school I pretty much eat/sleep/breathed the Fab Four. I hung out in the library so much looking for their albums and books about them, I credit them with my career choice. I hadn’t really done anything Beatles related in awhile, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about this film coming out. Luckily, it was streaming on Hulu so it was pretty easy for me to sit and watch it.
Within the first few seconds, I could feel the fangirl in my awakening. The sheer emotion I felt at hearing that music, watching the clips – it surprised me! And as a fan who enjoys talking with other fans, I really liked the clips from the different celebrities sharing their own Beatles memories.
But after the first 45 minutes, the reality set in – I knew all of this already. In fact, I had seen most of these concert clips before and a lot of the Beatles quotes were lifted from the Anthology (though Paul and Ringo did participate but they really didn’t say anything new). Now, the audio remastering was impressive, especially the Hollywood Bowl concert clips (the complete concert is available now in audio and it will be a bonus on the blu-ray release). I’m not sure how those sound engineers managed to find the Beatles’ voices in that din of screams, but they pulled it off (you can listen to the album right now on Spotify if you want to hear it).
There was one factoid I didn’t remember from before – probably because it is more a reflection of U.S. history rather than Beatles history – which was about the Jacksonville concert and The Beatles supporting integration, commenting that such a thing was ridiculous. That never came up in the Anthology (it doesn’t really try to connect The Beatles story to the rest of the world) and having it appear in this documentary with everything else going on right now, it feels like history is somehow stuck in a loop and I’m not really convinced we’ve learned anything. Or maybe we have but we keep forgetting (“And once every five years, everyone chooses to forget what they’ve learned. Democracy in action.”)
I felt like the film lost steam near the end, trying to find a way to wrap up a story in the middle, because the end of the touring years is the start of the studio years, and those albums are more memorable than the previous because they start experimenting and branching out. So it just kinda ends then jumps ahead to give us a clip from the Let It Be roof concert.
I’m guessing most people don’t have The Anthology memorized the way I do (I watched that special at least 3 times and I have the CDs, which I also listened to over and over) so maybe the repetition won’t be as noticeable to them. I mean, that documentary is several hours long while this clocks in at about 90 minutes so the non-Beatlemaniac can enjoy it.
All in all, a fun watch for a Beatles fan and probably interesting for the uninitiated too. I can only hope that there is another kid out there, like me, looking for something to watch to kill time and they might turn on Hulu and see this special and decide to learn more about The Beatles. Give it a watch, but don’t expect any revelations.
3 1/2 stars