Monday, January 5, 2009

Essential Cinema - 42

The Beatles Anthology

Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr
John Lennon
Neil Aspinal
George Martin
Derek Taylor

Bob Smeaton, Geoff Wonfor

None (Interviews)

None (Archival Footage)

The history of the "The Beatles" from their boyhood home in Liverpool to the end of the group in 1969.

A walk down memory lane for all the baby boomers, set to music. A look at how the lads from Liverpool shaped pop culture, and in turn were shaped by the world that they documented in song.

Since I was under the weather for most of the 2009 New Year's Eve Holiday, I decided to plop this LaserDisc Documentary into the Laserdisc player and watch all 12 sides of it. It is approximately 9 hours long and covers pretty much everything you would want to know about the Beatles. The Beatles were a big influence in my life. I have owned every one of their albums and even recall having an original copy of "Love Me Do" on 45rpm record back in the mid 60s. This documentary covers almost every facet of the group from it's beginning to it's demise and everything that happened in between.

I refer to them as 'it' because the focus of the documentary is on the group and not so much on the individuals within it. The personal stories of the members are focused on how they affected the group and the direction of their music. The personal lives of the band, with the exception of John and Yoko are never mentioned. The wives, lovers and children of the other band members and how they affected the direction and artistry of the band are absent.

The documentary is long on musical interludes showcasing the bands talent as it grew and changed over the years. This could be a bit tedious if not for the fact that most of the songs are not the versions released to the public. Many of the songs are studio tracks done in rehearsal that sound very much like the versions we are used to, but with slight differences. What becomes evident in this film is the huge amount of archival material that is available about the Beatles, much of which has never been seen.

I found myself reminiscing a lot while watching this and was entertained by the details of their time line that I did not know before (which events affected which albums and songs, etc). This film makes it easy to identify with each member and understand what they were going through during much of the creative process. At the end of the documentary there is a new Beatles song called "Free As A Bird", made from a vocal track that the late John Lennon had laid down years ago. While not a great song, it is haunting. The video that accompanies it has a visual reference to almost every Beatles song written and is like watching a "Where's Waldo" of the Beatles music library.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which is located on the LaserDisc Database.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.