aec.mhv61021233dvd 8/12/03 New

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The Beatles' early days as a struggling bar band are depicted in this fact-based drama, which tells the little-known story of original member Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff). A close friend of John Lennon, Sutcliffe acts as the band's original bassist, accompanying them on their early gigs in Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. The friendship becomes strained, however, when Sutcliffe falls in love with a German art student and starts to question his commitment to the band. With Sutcliffe's story taking center stage, the stories of the more famous Beatles largely fade into the background. The exception is John Lennon, thanks to a fierce performance by Ian Hart, who had previously portrayed the musician in the more intimate and provocative The Hours and the Times. While Backbeat does provide a new perspective on the band's beginning, and numerous opportunities for a group of modern rock musicians to recreate the band's energetic early performances, it never makes Sutcliffe's story seem more than a footnote to musical history. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi


Review Text Though more notable for the musicians who contributed to the album than for the actual music contained therein, the Backbeat soundtrack is actually a fantastic record that holds its own even when judged by purely musical criteria. Backbeat (the movie, which is unfortunately a bit of a hack job) chronicles the Beatles' developmental period in Liverpool and Hamburg, so the idea behind the soundtrack was to assemble musicians who could accurately convey the raw, quasi-punk feel of the early leather jacket-clad Fab Four. Producer Don Was, though not usually associated with high-power garage rock, does an excellent job of assembling an amazing post-punk supergroup, the members of which perform cover tunes from the Beatles' actual repertoire with aplomb and surprising cohesion. The band includes powerhouse vocalist Greg Dulli, best known as the leader of the Afghan Whigs, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighters guitarist/vocalist Dave Grohl, Thurston Moore (legendary six string strangler with Sonic Youth), noted alternative rock producer/guitarist Don Fleming (Gumball, Hole, Teenage Fanclub, Screaming Trees), and Soul Asylum vocalist Dave Pirner. Pirner, though he only participates on three songs, contributes some of the most energetic lead vocals of his career. Dulli, too, sounds like he's having the time of his life. Overall, the band sounds pretty convincing, except for Grohl's drumming, which, though typically excellent, is obviously from the post-John Bonham hard rock era. Despite that small flaw, however, this album is highly recommended, as it gives a much better idea of the early Beatles over-the-top energy than the film itself. ~ Pemberton Roach

Product Details

Release Date
Universal Studios
MPAA Rating
R -- Restricted
1 hour, 41 minutes
  • Dolby Digital Surround
  • USA & territories, Canada
  • French
  • Spanish
Video Features
  • ccFeature commentary with director Iain Softley
  • Deleted scenes
  • Interview with director Iain Softley
  • Stills gallery
  • Interview with actor Ian Hart
  • Director's essay
  • Casting sessions
  • TV featurette
Number of Discs

Customer Reviews