The Beatles Live project strays from path

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.


It’s so disappointing to see that the documentary originally focusing on The Beatles as a touring band has been turned into a film about the general career of The Beatles during the touring years. Back in 1977, the release of The Beatles at The Hollywood Bowl album was able to put a stop to the claims from non-fans (mainly followers of The Rolling Stones) that the Beatles may had plenty of hits but were no good live. After the Hollywood Bowl album, the non-believers were effectively silenced. We so wanted The Beatles Live project to be the film equivalent of that, to show us all aspects of The Beatles as a live band, and to stick to that theme. And it looked promising at first. The people in charge of the original project excitedly shared stories and films that were sent in to the project through their Facebook page and the official website.

Sadly, it seems the film has now shifted it’s perspective, and has become yet another in a seemingly never ending line of films, both officially sanctioned and independent releases, summing up all things Beatle. Only the time frame is kept, it’s the touring years – but it’s not all about touring any more.

Dear film makers, we already have the Beatles Anthology DVD series, we have From Liverpool to San Francisco, we have The Four Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles, The First U.S. Visit, The Unseen BeatlesThe Beatles Explosion, In Their Own Write, Rare And Unseen, The Long and Fabulous Road, From The Beginning To The End, Fun With The Fab Four, the list goes on and on.

From Liverpool to San Francisco (2005).

And the production team for the Beatles Live Project have seen all these previous DVD releases and wanted to do something else. They wanted to tell a story within the story, we were to be treated to the Beatles on stage and backstage, as well as to see them from their fans’ point of view. And that story is worth telling, it is every bit as exciting as the career overview, even more so because it narrows it down.

From the modest package tours of the UK, first as a support act that worked their way up to becoming headliners – in the middle of such a tour – to the test drive first tour in a different country – Sweden, joking with royalty, encountering an audience in France mostly consisting of boys, not girls, conquering America, having to substitute Ringo for Jimmy Nicol, that enormous crowd turning up in Australia, the New Zealand visit with Aunt Mimi tagging along, inventing stadium shows, the not sold out tour of Europe, starring in the NME Poll Winners concerts four years in a row, returning to Germany including Hamburg, being the first performers at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo amidst protests from sports fans, the Philippines scandal and that final USA tour with threats from the Ku Klux Klan which ended the touring years. That story goes from one highlight to another!

And then the Hollywood brass enters and the mantra is general audiences, general audiences. The film gets a new title (although still a working title) of Eight Days A Week – a song the Beatles never performed live. Let me tell you one thing: General audiences will LOVE a focused film. For once you have the chance to actually live up to the hype! The story is there, and it’s wonderful and has ups and downs as well as a dramatic ending, but you’re watering it out! You have the footage, you have the Giles Martin soundtrack, you’ve already hyped us up – use it! We have no need of seeing The Beatles getting their MBEs again, we’ve seen it too many times before. You go that route and you WILL see disappointing reviews. Time to rethink the film, and return to the original idea.

End of rant.

12 Responses

  1. LonglivetheBeatles says:

    I couldn't agree more, us original fans have seen all the so called documentaries, we don't need any more !!! WE WANT PERFORMANCES !!! And not with voice overs , WHEN WILL SOMEONE FINALLY EVER GET IT ……..

  2. David B says:

    I so agree, thank you!

  3. Bruce says:

    I agree. After reading Chuck Gunderson's book Some Fun Tonight I really wanted to browse through videos of the Beatles live performances. Unfortunately there wasn't an easy way to do it. t'm a Beatles fan and a SW developer so I wrote an app (free, iPhone) that lets you browse through Beatles YouTube videos of their live performances. Its organized by year and tour. Check it out. Very cool


  4. Pancho says:

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  5. SixtiesGuy says:

    I totally agree with you…provided this is in fact what has happened. What are you basing your comments on?

  6. wogew says:

    I'm basing my comments purely on hearsay, as I have no description of the film at this stage of the production at all. It was screened to a selected audience in Pasadena this week, but they probably had to sign a paper about not talking about it. I'm just worried that the project has gotten off track, and this is my meagre contribution to try and steer it back.

  7. Elliott Marx says:

    I think it is best to present a film that would be exciting and watched by all audiences, and this would be a documentary about those years in general. Unaltered live clips can serve as bonus features or be uploaded to a streaming site.

    The main factor of why The Beatles stop touring (or at least the main story we tell) is that the recorded music started to get too complex to recreate on stage. I feel that a film audience then needs to hear that complicated music and it should be explained how, exactly they got from Love Me DO to Tomorrow Never Knows. Without that, it is too unsatisfying to say they stopped touring because the technology wasn't available to do so.

    Other reasons to stop touring was the introspective nature of LSD; the security concerns raised after John's religious comments; marriage; and George's blossoming spirituality and interest in India.

    Without telling these stories you have a woefully incomplete narrative. I believe the film will be framed around touring, but will need to show why touring came to an end.

  8. wogew says:

    By all means, I am not suggesting that we should get the hard core fan film which would just include concert footage in chronological order (although that would make great bonus material on a DVD boxed set), I'm all for making this a film for the general audience, but I want it to focus on The Beatles as a live band. And I still think that focusing on this will make for a great viewing experience.
    Ron Howard in Rolling Stone back in 2014:
    "We are going to be able to take the Super 8 footage that we found, that was all shot silent. We'll not only be able to digitally repair a lot of that, but we've also been finding the original recordings," explains Howard. "We can now sync it up and create a concert experience so immersive and so engaging, I believe you're going to actually feel like you're somewhere in the Sixties, seeing what it was like to be there, feeling it and hearing it. And as a film director, that's a fantastic challenge."

    The film will also explore the "multigenerational quality" of Beatles fandom, according to Howard. "I hope we find some of that in the footage," he says. "We may have a shot of a boy or a girl very early in their life at a concert, and then we may be able to find them today and talk to them, and talk to their grandchildren and see what their relationship is with the Beatles, and understand how multiple generations find tremendous value and relevance in their music."

  9. Martin says:

    I hope this now doesn't turn into yet another 'documentary' hijacked by Tinsletown celebrities. With the likes of Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman yacking on about their Beatles 'experience' for the umpteenth time…

    I agree that there really should be a definitive Beatles live film/DVD out there. Like Led Zeppelin's much lauded DVD set and Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones. Shme Howard's film only focuses on the US side of things. Because the Paris gigs and even some Aussie and Dutch footage with dear Jimmy Nicol would have been great. Any document of the Fabs live history has to surely have footage of them with Jimmy?

  10. Shad Radna says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Shad Radna says:

    [Take Two…] It's easy to forget – especially if you weren't there – that The Beatles were a working, touring band up to '66. (Because it's easy to be fooled by all those LPs into thinking that they must have had a lot of time on their hands.) I for one wasn't there – they split up when they heard I was coming. For a kid born in 2005, say, Beatlemania is as far in the past as the Wall Street Crash was for me. Very few kids of that age are going to look at some (mostly) ropey footage of The Beatles playing live and get excited. They're going to need some context. I don't know what this film's like but it must be possible through the magic of cinema to tell the story of a band who got up on stage a lot and plugged in their instruments and actually played them and sang songs they'd written – the story of four charismatic musicians – and make it convey the excitement of being there. I mean, I doubt this film will do that, but it must be possible.

  12. T-Bird says:

    I for one will be happy with whatever they do. The Dylan and George Bio's were excellent so having people associated with these two Bio's means that we (fans) are in good hands.

    As for the question 'could they play live'?

    I will answer the question with this sample of three back to back crown-jewel improvisations that they pulled out of thin air on the morning on January 6, 1969. Remember, they re sitting on chairs on the drafty Twickenham sound stage, and entertaining themselves with KILLER music such as this. CHEERS, Ben Levi-Marks.

    PS: Your blog is the BOMB!!!!

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