Film review: Beatles
Films of Norway
No! This is not another documentary about the Beatles!
In fact, it is a great fictional story, adapted from a book written by the bestselling Norwegian author, Lars Saabye Christensen. He has released the impressive number of more than 55 books, many of which have been adapted into movies or mini-series. Cross My Heart and Hope to Die (Ti kniver i hjertet, 1994), Herman (1990), The Half brother (Halvbroren, 2013), King of Devil’s Island (Kongen of Bastøy, 2010) are some of them.
Beatles (2014) takes place in Oslo in 1968, as “Beatlemania” hits Norway. The story revolves around four young boys who are about to become men. They dream of forming their own pop band, discovering girls and occasionally think of themselves as the “Fab Four.” Whether you were young in the 60s or if you are young today, anyone can identify with their teenage life.
The young actors deliver excellent performances, and Beatles was nominated for several awards at the Norwegian film festival Amanda, including best photography, best sound, and best scenography. It won the prize for best scenography.
Some of the critics mention that the movie was not as good as the book. As we know that is often the case, and it is, of course, much more challenging to tell a story on the screen than it is to write it on paper, which leaves it up to the reader to create the images.
Originally, Beatles was to be directed by Joakim Rønning og Espen Sandberg, but they left the project to direct the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The producer of Beatles (Storm Rosenberg) had to turn around quickly and find another director. He ended up with a very good one, Peter Flinth (from Denmark) who, based on the result, did a great job!
The film did not do as well in the cinemas as expected, however, with only 71,000 tickets sold. That was a very low number compared with the “expected” 600,000.
I often wonder why such a good movie ends up selling almost 10 times less tickets than the estimated budget. Well, it is easy to think “jacked up budget,” but in this case I would say, no. The estimated budget was probably correct, so what other reasons could there be? Timing is essential in cinema, and this could be one reason, but actually I think the main reason was the title. As indicated in the beginning of this review, the title can easily mislead the audience to think that the theme would be a documentary about the Beatles, and not what it actually is: a sensitive and humorous story about being a teenager.
I highly recommend Beatles. It is a joyful movie experience that gives you insight into the life, streets, buildings, fashion, and people of Oslo in the 1960s. The film is beautifully photographed with sound effects and music that emphasize the story, with music composed by Magne Furuholme, keyboardist for the famous Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha.
Beatles is no longer playing at any movie theater, and you will most likely not find it on DVD or Blu-ray, so your option is to stream it. It is available at Films of Norway at www.filmsofnorway.com. Happy streaming!
See the Beatles trailer here, courtesy of Films of Norway:
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.