Tuesday, 22 July 2014


HI everyone,

There's lots of interest in the media about a new feature length documentary on the Beatles, to be directed by Ron Howard. Initially when I read the press release I assumed it would be one of these semi- dramatic and sometimes rather fictional films about the lads. But it seems to be in the same vein as Martin Scorsese's feature length biopic of George which was made a couple of years ago. So no cruddy scouse accents then. Here's an edited version of the news story.

Ron Howard will direct a documentary on the Beatles as a live act, tracing their days from the clubs of Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany, to their final appearance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. Apple Corps Ltd., Imagine Entertainment and Nigel Sinclair’s White Horse Pictures will produce the authorized documentary, which Sinclair hopes will be released in theaters late in 2015. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison are cooperating with producers Sinclair, Howard and his partner in Imagine, Brian Grazer, and Scott Pascucci, managing director of Concord Music Group. It would be the first Beatles theatrical film since Let it Be was released in 1970.
Jeff Jones, chief executive of the Beatles’ company Apple Corps, first approached Sinclair about participating in the documentary. Sinclair was working with Howard on “Rush,” a film about the Formula 1 racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Howard had recently finished shooting his first documentary, about the Jay Z music festival Made in America.
He asked Howard  if he was a Beatles fan, to which he responded that’s an absurd question.
“My 10th birthday was all about me getting a Beatle wig,” says Howard, who turned 10 less than three weeks after the Beatles appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” “While my knowledge isn’t encyclopedic, I’m a lifelong fan and I’m fascinated by what they’ve meant.”
Sinclair, who was 16 when the Beatles broke through globally, sees the story as societal and political as well as musical.
“The Beatles came at a time when people assumed ownership of their stars,” he says. “I think you can’t tell the story of popular music and its place in popular culture without looking at the live concert relationship between artist and audience. When the Beatles started, it was the job of artists is to tell people like me how we should live our lives. That was one of the massive changes that these four people wrought upon us.
“One of the things that interests Ron and I very much is the word exceptionalism. There is something utterly exceptional about the Beatles beyond any other musical group. I’m hoping, as we go on this journey together and piece together (this film), when it’s finished, you get an understanding of that.”
"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."
Sinclair says the team has already unearthed some surprising footage from the Beatles’ final concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966. "Their last concert in ’66, when they were probably the most famous people on the planet, [they] ended up carrying their own amps onstage. I think that’s almost emblematic of the charm of this story," he says. Also a longtime Beatles fan, he saw the band in Glasgow in 1964. "It was a memory to treasure."
So, quite a heavy project then....still i would rather a really good documentary than a poorly made semi-biography. Most of the so called 'Beatles story' movies have not quite made the grade for me. I think its too complex a story to tell, with four unique characters, their own backgrounds, the band interactions, and the musical challenges too... a directors nightmare!

Heres a run down of the movies made covering aspects of the Beatles story....in one way or another! (These are the ones i am aware of, but if you know of any others please get in touch)

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 1978
(ok, not really a 'Beatles' film but it does feature a lot of their music by the big stars of the period, fun and out of date now but definitely cringeworthy)

The Rutles - All You Need is Cash 1978
Excellent mockumentary, by Eric Idle. Even George has a poke at his former band, ok its a parody but it does capture some of the madness that surrounded the band.. and the music is just great.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand 1978
Instead of focusing on the Fab Four themselves, the film follows a group of teenagers who are determined to get to New York City to see the lads play on the "Ed Sullivan Show". So its a bit of a daft comedy, but interesting from the fans point of view.

Birth of the Beatles 1979
The first real straight forward account of The Beatles during the Hamburg years, their signing with Brian Epstein and their inevitable rise during the early sixties.

John & Yoko 1985
John and Yoko: A Love Story is a 1985 television drama that chronicles the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, beginning just before they met in 1966 and concluding with Lennon's assassination in 1980.

The Hours and Times 1991
A fictionalized account of what may have happened when John Lennon and Brian Epstein went on holiday together to Spain in 1963....o'err.

Backbeat 1994
The centerpoint of this tale is really Stuart Sutcliffe, artistically inclined close friend of John Lennon. Their friendship, and what Hamburg does to it, is really where the meat of the story is, with the Beatles other members just really having cameo roles. I like this one as it does have some poignant scenes, and tries really hard to be true to the faith.

In His Life 2000
Set in Liverpool in the 1950s, this movie concentrates on the early life of Lennon (yawn, yet again...) as he struggles to become a successful musician in the embryonic stages of British rock n roll. The film focuses on eight years of Lennon's youth, from age 16 to 23, also shown are recreated scenes from the Quarrymen, the German era, and the Cavern Club performances. The film ends with the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

Two of Us 2000
A VH1 movie that imagined a day in 1976 when Paul McCartney and John Lennon "buried the hatchet" and just hung out. Supposedly, there was a day somewhat like this, but the film makers are sure to tell us it is a fiction film made of pure conjecture. That the director is Michael Lindsay Hogg, (director of the infamous LET IT BE documentary) gives it a little more insight than another director might have had. Interesting 'what would have?' daydream of a film. It seems only to be available as a U.S. region 1 DVD, although it is on Youtube. I have watched it just recently on Youtube and quite enjoyed it. The actors accents are a bit lame, esp Macca, but it does touch on some personal subject matter between the two of them. I have to emphasise it is a fictional film, as i recently found new info about lennon and mccartney having been in regular get togethers since at least 1974, during Johns 'lost weekend'. Lennon wanted to justify getting back with Paul to write new stuff... that is until he reunited with Yoko and she changed his mind saying he didnt need to work with his old partner again....CHEEERS Yoko!!

The Linda McCartney Story 2000
Linda is first shown as Linda Eastman, aspiring rock photographer. Flirting her way around the transatlantic rock scene with the likes of Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger, she eventually meets Paul McCartney during the heyday of mid-'60s Beatlemania. Thirty years of marriage, the Beatles' break-up, tambourine playing with Wings, and McCartney's ultimately unsuccessful battle with breast cancer follow. The same actor who played Paul in Backbeat also portrayed him here. Not a bad effort, with lots of little Beatle stories added, some good - some bad.

Nowhere Boy 2009
Exploring the teenage years of John Lennon (oh no, not again), it manages to capture this tumultuous period pretty well... for the most part. Another good effort.

Lennon Naked 2010
A 2010 television film focusing on the life of John Lennon between 1967 and 1971. It stars Chris Eccleston as Lennon.

Beatles Stories 2011
Songwriter Seth Swirsky grew up in the 1960s idolizing the Beatles - their songs, their sound and their style. In 2004, he set out, video camera in hand, to talk to people who had crossed paths with his heroes. From Sir Ben Kingsley to Sir George Martin, and Beach Boy Brian Wilson to astronomer Brian Skiff, Swirsky filmed hundreds of personal recollections from people who knew them well to those who just had an unforgettable encounter. Others who shared their recollections of the Fabs include: actors Henry Winkler (aka "The Fonz") and Jon Voight; former Beatles recording engineers Norman "Hurricane" Smith, Ken Scott, and John Kurlander; musicians Smokey Robinson, Jackie DeShannon, Graham Nash, Davy Jones, Susanna Hoffs and Art Garfunkel, among dozens of others. Swirsky found stories in unexpected places, getting Beatles' intimates to open up - neighbours, tour mates, business associates, and even former girlfriends - telling stories you've never heard before. Very good documentary, now on Sky on demand.

Beatles 2014
Four friends growing up in Oslo in the sixties, who occasionally think of themselves as the Fab Four. Based on the best selling book by Lars Saabye Christensen. Sounds  interesting, released Aug. 2014.

...and finally i can't go without mentioning the fabulous "All This and World War Two" (1976), an unlikely combo of documentary footage of WW2 action, war movies of the period and the great music of the Beatles. I know it sounds silly but trust me it just works. The mashing of images of the 'Battle of Midway' overdubbed with Elton John's brilliant version of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' is just, ...well, ...sublime.

see the youtube clip - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcfgmP_Ry8s