This month marks fifty years since the release of one of the most iconic albums of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, changing the face of modern day music forever. The album marked a pivotal moment in The Beatles’ career as they moved from beautifully crafted pop songs to a far more experimental and genre-defying style, leaving behind their clean-cut image and stadium tours in the process.
In an attempt to celebrate this pretty monumental anniversary, along comes It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper & Beyond. Director Alan G. Parker weaves together a tonne of archive footage to tell the story of The Beatles’ journey through this wildly transitional phase, but, unfortunately for Parker, this is a story that has been told a thousand times before. Beatles fans know it inside out and sadly this documentary lacks a new angle. Even more frustratingly, the documentary didn’t get the rights to use The Beatles’ music – meaning that during this almost 2 hour-long documentary not a note of Sgt. Pepper is even heard.
With Beatles fans having been completely spoiled in 2016 by Ron Howard’s Eight Days A Week, which pretty much had an Access All Areas pass to the band and their music, this documentary unfortunately comes off a whole lot worse. The interviews with those that knew the band are interesting but there aren’t any truly big names featured here, and the lack of McCartney and Starr (and any of their music) speaks volumes.
Diehard Beatles fans may enjoy the wealth of archive footage featured, but a documentary about an iconic album without any of the music comes across as a cheap attempt to make some money off the back of its anniversary.
CAST: Julia Baird, Andre Barreau, Pete Best, Jenny Boyd
DIRECTOR: Alan G. Parker
SYNOPSIS: A documentation of the influences that went on to help create the seminal album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.