Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

21/09/16, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

I didn't think the Cameo cinema would be near full on a Monday night, but then, I hadn't bargained for the enduring popularity of The Beatles. In a cinema culture where so many people want to see superheroes, from Batman to Avengers to the Justice League, here was an opportunity to see the real thing: four young men emerging from post-war austerity, possessing astonishing talent and emotional intelligence. In this film you can only admire how their bullshit-detectors are permanently on high as they navigate the weird, ultimately pointless excesses of fame. Throughout their young adulthood, they maintain their drive to develop without the manic distractions of wealth and fame, fan-worship or media provocation, as they change the world with their music. As Ringo says at one point, they felt sorry for Elvis Presley, who had to cope with it all on his own. The Beatles clung to each other in the maelstrom, in a phenomenon of idolatry arguably never seen before. Was this the first time the female gaze had become something so public? I've heard the screams of Elvis fans on grainy TV footage as he gyrated, but this was something else: entire stadiums of barely-controlled teenage girls screaming their lust at four sexually-objectified males. Had mankind ever seen anything like this before? Girls wanting to fuck: who knew?

Much of this documentary will already be known to many: The Beatles were no manufactured boy band in the modern sense: as teenage boys they went off to Hamburg's red-light bars to hone their musicianship and song-writing, with night after night of performance and practice. The reaction of female fans, upon their return though, caught Western culture unprepared – interviews with journalists in this documentary reveal their own shock at what was enfolding, a new teenage culture with inhibitions discarded, and law and order barely maintained where The Beatles toured.

So what did I learn? I didn't know about the racial aspect behind the scenes, how at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, The Beatles refused to play live to a segregated audience. Footage at the time reveals Paul McCartney speaking for the band against the madness of segregation. Their standard contract for live music is shown, with its final clause, saying The Beatles don't play to segregated audiences. One former fan who'd been there at the stadium, as a black girl among a crowd of white people, told of how that had been her first experience of being in a mixed public space.

So you come away from this documentary with many good thoughts. They're a bunch of nice guys, sharp, funny, talented, intelligent – as mentioned, of astonishing emotional intelligence. They remained unaffected by the kind of idolatry that became its own news, following them to the four corners of the globe. And just when the story seems to end, and they appear to reach the end of their road, as wealthy, fed-up young idols, they return to the studio and produce: Rubber Soul; Revolver; Sergeant Pepper. The documentary begins to finish up at this point, we don't see the bad days, the fall-out, we see little of The Magical Mystery Tour or Let It Be, or Abbey Road or The White Album, which for any other band would have been their be-all and end-all.

I got up in the dark auditorium while everyone else remained; at the end of the documentary is a 35-minute segment of The Beatles' performance in Shea Stadium. I hung around to watch a few songs, then left into the cold night air. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were in my mind, two living super-humans, it's so moving just to see them still alive, unaffected, affectionately recalling a past that still pulls in the crowds. They make me feel very much a post-war person myself: I was born in 1975, so The Beatles are of my parents' generation, a generation that saw a world change from radio and trips to your closest seaside town, into a nuclear age, international travel, a TV age, an Internet age. Everything is different now, so much is changing so quickly. The Beatles' remaining members are as powerful a link as any to an older world that I look back to with affection. What an astonishing period of history it's been, these past sixty years. What a beautiful soundtrack we have, courtesy of four boys from Liverpool, John, Paul, George and Ringo.
American Honey


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Monday, 08 March 2021

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

December 22, 2020

Lacanian Icarus: when Gina flew too close to the sun?

On the recent experience of nearly being no-platformed There are two identities in one when it comes to being part of a disempowered minority. The first is for yourself: all your failings, your insecurities, your doubts, and connected to this, your curiosity and quirks. Let's be Lacanian analysts for a moment: what we're talking about is the transg...
November 17, 2020

If I were to detransition, this is what I would write

Warning: this is a speculative piece of writing, not an official announcement, although I have recently begun to imagine an 'ideological' detransition (from trans woman to GNC male). Here, I'm trying to articulate and reflect on my thoughts and feelings, and imagining myself from a different perspective. In this post, I'm Gina v...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
October 17, 2020

What if gender-critical feminism came to power?

This scenario is inspired by a dialogue I had yesterday evening with a gender-critical feminist just before I went to bed. Here is what I dreamed: In the summer of 2021, the Conservative minister Liz Truss introduces legislation, making women-only spaces legally accessible only to those born female. This U.K. law includes a provision for funding al...
October 13, 2020

Responses to my blog post (1)

A frustrating aspect of my website is that when people write in, there's no trace of an email address so no way of getting back to people, and also no way of publishing their messages. However, I received such a nice response to my article just now that I'd like to include it here. It's from some who for the sake of confidentiality (in case it's ne...
October 11, 2020

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism Note to the reader: This post is intended as a contribution to addressing the current tensions between transgender activism and gender-critical feminism. The way I see myself in relation to female i dentity, and the ideas I express here, are not a prescription for other trans women. The t...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...