The Beatles films every fan needs to see

The Beatles films every fan needs to see

In partnership with Disney+ UK

For the past six decades, The Beatles have entertained music fans and cinema-goers alike. From live concerts to insightful documentaries, the Fab Four’s story is one that remains a fixture on the big screen. As we announce a special NME Screens event to celebrate the re-release of Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s classic 1970 doc Let It Be, here are the essential films every fan needs to see.

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

If you want to experience the dizzy headrush of Beatlemania, start with A Hard Day’s Night, a frightfully fun caper that captures the Fab Four on their nascent rise. Inspired by French new wave cinema, director Richard Lester captured the band in preparation for a fictional TV appearance and integrated songs that would also appear on their third studio album.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… all four are at their foppish best, but George stacking it in the film’s iconic opening chase has incredible replay value.

The Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Three years later, the lads were getting weird. The fact that this film aired on Boxing Day on BBC One to the British public is mind-blowing enough (Taylor’s Eras Tour could never), let alone the fact they were served this – a rambling, sometimes-illuminating example of the whacky new directions the boys were headed in post-Sgt. Pepper’s.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… honorary Fab Mal Evans – the band’s longtime roadie and fixer – plays one of the meddling magicians (he’s the tall one).

Yellow Submarine (1969)

The Fab Four were fairly detached from the film: their animated counterparts were provided by voice actors and the accompanying songs are fairly throwaway compared to ‘The White Album’, which was also recorded in 1968. Even so, the vibrant animation has made it a gateway opportunity for youngsters to get stuck into the pop legends.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… Ringo takes the lead on the titular song which, two years prior in 1966, went to Number One in the UK. It was his sole chart-topper as lead vocalist.

Let It Be (1970)

Before Peter Jackson’s epic restoration job, the eight-hour Get Back documentary released in 2021, there was Michael Linday-Hogg’s Let It Be. The film is best remembered for capturing The Beatles’ final live performance in 1969 atop a London rooftop, a central part of Beatles lore and a reminder of what the world had missed since they quit touring three years prior. Following its release in 1970, Let It Be has been long out of circulation on home video and accessible mainly through bootlegged versions; this week, however, the film will arrive on streaming for the first time on Disney+.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… Paul McCartney said in 2007 that he couldn’t bear to watch the film, conscious of the bickering between band members during the often aimless studio sessions. Get Back, however, showed how crucial his drive kept the band from imploding even sooner and Let It Be may now get a fairer viewing.

Nowhere Boy (2009)

Sam Taylor’s 2009 biopic of John Lennon captured the boy before the man. Based on his half-sister Julia Baird’s biography, the film is a tender portrait of Lennon’s teenage relationships: with his late mother, Julia, his eventual guardian Aunt Mimi and his Quarrymen bandmates Paul and George.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… Aaron Johnson – who would eventually marry the film’s director – does a fine job portraying John, a troubled teen still searching for his place in the world.

George Harrison: Living In the Material World (2011)

Arguably the best documentary film on any of the Fab Four. In 2011, Martin Scorsese – long an admirer of George’s work – released this epic three-hour film with cooperation from all the key players: his wife Olivia and son Dhani, rock and roll pals Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, as well as influential figures such as confidante and collaborator Klaus Voorman. Scorsese’s focus on Harrison’s post-Beatles career and continued activism produces, arguably, a more compelling and well-rounded picture of the so-called ‘Quiet One’.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… George Harrison, duh. Come for the rush of his sassy wit in the ‘60s, stay for the lovely clips of a middle-aged dad pottering around his garden.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (2016)

In 2016, director Ron Howard took a swing at a Beatles doc with Eight Days A Week. The premise is simple, following the band’s period as a touring prospect from 1962 to 1966, tracing their time on the road and the eventual retirement from live performances. Remastered footage of their show at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1965 looks spectacular, but the insights into the troubles they faced on the road – over-eager fans, moral panics and boycotters – are equally insightful.

Watch first if your fave Fab is… You, the Beatle stan. Eight Days A Week is as much about the Beatlemania phenomenon as it is about the music they produced and played live.

‘Let It Be’ launches exclusively on Disney+ on May 8

The post The Beatles films every fan needs to see appeared first on NME.

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