Rock icons are getting their turn at big-screen stardom. ROCKETMAN tells the tale of famed singer/songwriter Elton John (played by Taron Egerton). Bruce Springsteen’s blue-collar hits power the upcoming comedy BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. And Danny Boyle is about to open YESTERDAY, which imagines a world where only one man remembers the music of the Beatles — and uses that to his advantage, to claim credit for writing all of their hit songs.
YESTERDAY isn’t the band’s first brush with the big-screen treatment, though. Filmmakers have been borrowing inspiration from the Fab Four for decades, while early on, the Beatles themselves used their global popularity to reach fans through exclusive films.
Want to brush up on Beatlemania before grabbing tickets to see YESTERDAY in theatres? Start with the earliest black-and-white excursions that followed the band on their meteoric rise to superstardom way back in 1964.
A Hard Day’s Night
Directed by Richard Lester, the musical comedy A HARD DAY’S NIGHT followed John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr around their hometown of Liverpool as they tried to get to a concert in London. There’s a threadbare plot (some silly nonsense involving Paul’s grandfather), but the hook is hearing the band perform early hits like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better” and “Tell Me Why” as thousands of fans scream at the top of their lungs.
The follow-up to A HARD DAY’S NIGHT got a little more involved in scripting a story for the lads, who proved to be quite interested in hamming it up for the camera. Mad scientists want to get their hands on Ringo, and a cult wants to get its hands on one of his prized rings. It’s crazy, but also a good opportunity for fans to get to know the band members better and hear hit songs like “Ticket to Ride,” “You Can’t Do That” and the movie’s title track.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
Ron Howard directs this fascinating documentary about the Beatles’ touring schedule during the height of Beatlemania, spanning their earliest days in the Cavern Club (the place that launched them out of Liverpool) to their final show in San Francisco in 1966. The highlight of the documentary, though, has to be the footage of the band’s famous concert at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1965.
Across the Universe
Danny Boyle’s YESTERDAY isn’t the first movie to be inspired by the music of the Beatles without actually using members of the band. Sean Penn played a man obsessed with the Fab Four in I AM SAM. But Julie Taymor really stepped it up in the 2007 musical ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, where the music of the band powered a love story between Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Jude (Jim Sturgess).
Needless to say, the Beatles have been a fixture on the music and movie charts since they became a band. But what if that band never existed … yet, one man remembered their legacy and decided to capitalize on it? That’s the plot of Danny Boyle’s YESTERDAY, which casts newcomer Himesh Patel as a songwriter who steals the catalog of the Beatles and claims it as his own.
Will he get away with it? Find out when YESTERDAY opens in AMC theatres on June 28.