A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The Beatles were innovative creators who learned from their predecessors and who have influenced musicians and music appreciators ever since.
Positive Role Models
George, Paul, John, and Ringo learned from past music, practiced hard, performed in small clubs for many hours at a time and for many years, and became better musicians, performers, and writers. After their success, some of them continued to experiment and incorporate music, notions, and philosophies from other cultures into their work.
Violence & Scariness
The unrest and protest against the Vietnam War and other vestiges of "establishment," "imperialistic" governmental actions are shown as 1960s students and war protesters march, get arrested, and get beaten. The drug overdose deaths of rock musicians are mentioned.
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Products & Purchases
The Beatles sold millions of records and introduced young people to Eastern philosophies, which may have eventually led to the popularity of books and music from other countries as well as the proliferation of yoga studios. Millions have been made on Beatles music and licensing.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The Beatles smoke cigarettes. They were interested in the mind-expanding properties promised by the drug LSD. Psychedelic music reflected the habits of some who took recreational hallucinogenic drugs to alter their perceptions and, perhaps, enhance creativity.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that How the Beatles Changed the World is a documentary promoting the premise that the influence of the internationally successful 1960s rock band is still being felt in music, art, and culture today. It looks at the backgrounds of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, at the band's early days, and the historical conditions and post-war economy that paved the way for the creation and success of the Beatles. Footage of violent street protests is shown. Cigarette smoking is seen and drug use is discussed. The drug overdose deaths of rock musicians are also mentioned. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an engaging, ambitious, and fairly comprehensive documentary about the influential band. It could also be argued that although the Beatles' contributions were vast, they, too, were part of a continuum of artists, politicians, and events that undermined a grown-up-oriented world in favor of the input of the young. The title of How the Beatles Changed the World may seem overstated and indefensible to those young enough to take for granted the use of rock and rap beats in every television commercial, but there was a time that such music would have been considered off-putting, even offensive, in a marketing setting to the stodgy grown-ups whose pockets were generally targeted by advertisers.
To make it more meaningful to younger viewers of today, the film might have been more specific about what life was like pre-Beatles, when commercials featured jingles more likely to originate with Lawrence Welk than Jay-Z. Sneakers were only for sports. Jeans were only worn by cowboys, bikers, or young children on playgrounds. There was no "youth market." The movie makes the point that young people were finding their voices and starting to declare that they wanted products and music that reflected their rejection of the way things had been. The movie might have provided more comment and analysis about the Beatles' role in a growing acceptance of drug use that has since morphed into an epidemic and social scourge. Perhaps their candor about experimentation with psychedelics gave a generation permission to experiment. Was that a good thing or bad? The movie doesn't judge. And while it mentions the Beat poets, LSD guru Timothy Leary, and the protest movement against the Vietnam War, the filmmaker seems to believe that the Beatles had more to do with what came after than other equally plausible historical influences. Perhaps the point is that the Beatles were probably far more influential than young people give them credit for today, but the fact that the comedians of Monty Python were coming up at the same time suggests that lots of young people with talent and smarts were also starting to wield their influence, and the Beatles, however singular, happened to be part of that social, international surge for change that, as the movie argues, is still with us.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.