Monumental. This really is the only word that can suitably describe the impact of The Beatles, not only on all contemporary music and music thereafter but also on the world in general. Hysteria was one of the main symptoms of Beatles fever, along with purchasing more Beatles posters than your house has wall space for and fainting at the mere mention of Paul McCartney or John Lennon. Beatles fever even persists to the present day of course, with millions of fans around the world remembering how much the band changed the face of musical (and arguably general) history. The Beatles Anthology was a documentary that actually aired in 1995 to excited audiences and was available for purchase on the now-redundant VHS format; after a long wait, it was released in its entirety on DVD along with all of the fantastic extras and visual side-dishes that typify a DVD release. Is it worth buying in 2013? Before we decide that, we might want to take a closer look at its features and inclusions.
One thing to remember about this documentary is that it isn’t like modern-day ones which are produced by TV companies like Channel 4 or BBC; this documentary was actually produced in the year of 1995 by none other than the members of The Beatles that were at the time still alive (as well as Yoko and Aspinall, Niel). Much like the Beatles Rock Band Video Game of recent years, this documentary covers the Beatles’ entire career from Liverpool to Abbey Road and beyond and is comprised of video footage that hails from a variety of different origins including some promo films, footage from archives, home movies, and news footage of the band. Separately, this stock footage show mere snippets of the Beatles over the years but when woven together in chronological order by the documentary, they end up producing an entirely unique experience for hardcore fans and musicians in general.
The documentary begins in the 1940s briefly with the birth of the members, moves swiftly on to their teen years, and then takes you through the band’s rise to fame in satisfying detail, and all done in an incredibly stylish and sublimely artistic manner, the likes of which you would usually expect from professional filmmakers. What I enjoyed most about the experience was firstly the interviews that intersect (but importantly do not interrupt) the music in the documentary. You won’t find a one-sided approach that brushes over the clear, obvious, and often famous creative differences between band members. In fact, it seems that the members of the band used their creative control to ensure that each of the members’ opinions, no matter how candid – remained in the documentary, giving us some very personal and differing perspective from the horses’ mouths.
Though there are no full-length live performances to see on the DVD, the documentary contains full-length tracks that are played without interruption, which is quite rare for a documentary. Having recently watched a Jimi Hendrix documentary recently, I noticed just how often the talking heads interrupt the music, but with The Beatles Anthology, the band were careful to avoid this, resulting in wholly satisfying tracks played from beginning to end.
Satisfying is actually an apt description not only for the full-length songs but for the whole anthology in general since it covers the entire career of the band from a perspective that will never been seen or experienced again by anyone in history. This anthology provides fans and musical historians with some incredible footage of both on and off-stage antics, including the disagreements amongst the members. With crisp sound that has obviously been re-mastered and video clips edited to perfection, this anthology is probably the best look at the band that anyone is ever likely to experience and it offers more every time you watch it.