Parents' Guide to

How the Beatles Changed the World

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Docu about band's cultural influence; some smoking, drugs.

Movie PG 2017 110 minutes
How the Beatles Changed the World Poster Image

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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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 23, 2017
  • On DVD or streaming: November 1, 2017
  • Director: Tom O'Dell
  • Studio: Vision Films
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Character Strengths: Perseverance
  • Run time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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