The Beatles Story (1996)

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Released 15-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Notes-History
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 60:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring None Given
Case Soft Brackley-Opaque
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    I recounted in my review of Paul McCartney - Live At The Cavern Club the story of how my dad once saw The Beatles in concert in Bristol sometime in the early sixties. I raise this wondrous fact once again because I am surprised that the makers of this documentary didn't contact my father to take part in the interview process and to tell of his experiences with the band. I offer up this ludicrous idea because they seemed to have dragged up all manner of people that had only the slimmest of connections with the band at the time for this documentary. This includes a former owner of the Cavern Club, some guy who used to write songs with Paul McCartney, another unknown and long-forgotten band that played the Cavern at around the same time, and probably worst of all in the closing stages of the documentary, a Beatles cover band. The reason for using such obscure references for what is probably the best-known and most widely documented band in the history of modern music is slightly baffling, though I can guess that they were attempting to offer a slightly different angle on what is a pretty well-known and often recounted tale. They probably also didn't have the funds to pay for all the 'official' sources of information either.

    This documentary was made in 1996 and it attempts to condense the entire history of The Beatles into one hour, from the early skiffle days of Lennon and McCartney right through to the final days of the Let It Be album. That is a pretty tall order. Considering the epic The Beatles Anthology covered the same period and ran for over ten hours, all we were ever going to get here is an abridged version. We don't even get any real Beatles music (presumably due to rights and payment considerations). Instead, a group called The Liverpool Echoes plays a style of music that sounds a bit like the Fab Four but not quite.

    Hard core Beatles fans will certainly not learn anything new from this paper-thin documentary. It's more of a potted history, glossing over many of the important facts and filling in much of the time with present-day shots of where the lads lived, where they wrote songs, and other places they visited during the halcyon days of the early sixties. The usual stuff that everyone with even a passing interest in the band knows about is covered, albeit very briefly. The Quarrymen, The Cavern, Hamburg, Brian Epstein, George Martin, Beatlemania, The US tour and the infamous 'more popular than Jesus' comment from John is all handled with a very English conservatism that pervades the whole documentary and just about sends the viewer to sleep. The fact that none of the actual Beatles releases in terms of singles or albums cracks a mention is also rather strange and lends a certain fake element to the whole process. The only exception to this is the often clichéd use of the Long and Winding Road to describe the whole Beatles journey.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    With a combination of some reasonably recent footage and also plenty of archival black and white footage from the sixties, the quality of the video is at times pretty good and at others pretty appalling - though not at all surprising for the latter footage.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is all over the place due to the mixture of quality and age of the source material, though the newer interview footage is pretty good. The archival footage shows every flaw possible although this is only to be expected.

    Almost all of the archival footage is in black and white, and so colours are not that important. The colours in the newer interview segments and external shots are suitably rendered whilst not being startling vivid. There are no oversaturation or bleeding problems.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts. The new footage is relatively clean of artefacts, though the old black and white archival footage contains vast quantities of almost every artefact known to man, far too many to note down individually.

    There are no subtitles present.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track present, this being a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. It's fairly uninspiring.

    Dialogue is a bit of a mixed bag. With much of the dialogue being delivered with a heavy Liverpool brogue, you can often find yourself grappling to understand what is being said. The older archival footage shows more evidence of this. There are thankfully no audio sync issues.

    As mentioned in the plot outline, there is no original Beatles music present here at all. The background music is provided by a band called The Liverpool Echoes and despite having a bit of a sixties Beatles feel to it, is mostly unremarkable.

    There was no surround or subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Notes - History

    Sort of a diary that chronicles The Beatles history from the first moment that Lennon and McCartney met in 1957 through to April 1970 when the band officially split up.You can probably get just as concise and a much quicker history of The Beatles from this extra than is offered in the main documentary. The actual songs and albums are also mentioned here, as are the positions that many of them rose to on the charts, which is an added bonus not contained in the main feature.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Doesn't look like this title is available in Region 1 yet. It is available in Region 2 and seems to be specified exactly the same as our release.

Summary

    Whilst offering some footage of the Fab Four that I had not previously seen, there is not much to spark much interest for either the die-hard fan or even those with only a passing interest. The video is average, though this is not surprising considering the age of much of the source material. The audio is pretty uninspiring and the lack of original music from the lads is a real disappointment and lends a cheap feel to much of the documentary. The are virtually no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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