Directed by Iain Softley (K-PAX) Backbeat is an energetic musical drama chronicling the pre-fame Beatles as they head to Hamburg in search of success. As they gain popularity the 'fifth Beatle ' bass guitarist Stuart Sutcl... more »iffe (Stephen Dorff) falls in love and ultimately must choose between his best friend John Lennon his new love (Sheryl Lee) and the greatest rock and roll band in the world. Full of vitality and heart with a soundtrack that includes rock and roll classics including music from Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) David Pirner (Soul Asylum) and Mike Mills (R.E.M.) 'Backbeat is a thrilling spectacle that rocks the house? Defiant raucous erotic.' - Rolling StoneStarring: Sheryl Lee Stephen Dorff Ian HartDirected by: Iain Softley« less
"Universal released the title in summer 2003 and returns with a "collector's edition" at the same price. The main upgrades are Dolby 5.1 audio and an audio interview with Astrid Kirchherr, the German photographer who took the Beatles' first publicity shots. The anamorphic widescreen images (1.85:1) seem about the same as on the 2003 disc, good but sometimes grainy. Other extras, duped from the old DVD, include a director's commentary, a pair of deleted scenes and various interviews that tend to repeat material. Packaging is a lot classier than on the old DVD.
"Backbeat" takes the time to let its bogus Beatles perform entire numbers, mostly soul covers. The real music came from a "grunge" supergroup put together for the film by producer Don Was. The new 5.1 audio sounds sensational, with a vibrant and musical surround stage.
Director Iain Softley ("K-PAX") tells how he spent six years researching and writing the project, inspired by stylish photos he saw of Kirchherr and her lover Stu Sutcliffe, the Beatles' first bass player. The "Backbeat" script was based on her recollections; it focuses on the couple and jealous guy John Lennon.
This might not be a Beatles film, but there's an undeniable thrill when, late in the story, the Paul McCartney character switches to his trademark German bass and the fabled front three wails on "Please Mr. Postman." The film's downer ending gets drowned out by the joys of "Twist and Shout" and the promise of Beatlemania."
SIMPLY A GREAT MOVIE
M. R. Sheffield | Herkimer, NY | 04/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got a kick out of the current "Spotlight" review of this DVD, the one referring to a portrayal of an unrequited "homosexual" love affair between Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon. People see what they want to see, I guess, but I didn't see that at all in this wonderful movie. Sure, the John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe characters experience a deep felt "love" for each other, but love in a non-sexual sense. A man can feel intense love for another man (or a woman for another woman, a mother and daughter for instance)and it doesn't have to be (nor is it usually) sexual. Maybe it takes a quite a few years to realize it, but sexual love is really the weakest kind of love out there. Sexual love often boils down to nothing more than lust, and the friendship between John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe that is portrayed in BACKBEAT is in a world apart from than that. As most everyone has said, the movie is a absolute delight. The performances are all strong and the cinematography just right. It's one of those films you can watch over and over again, and see something different each time. Most highly recommended, especially to fans of early Beatle music."
A raw look at the "fab 5"
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 03/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before The Beatles changed the world of music, they were a scruffy rock 'n' roll five piece. Lennon and McCartney were already writing music together but Lennon spent much of his time hanging with fellow artist Stu Sutcliffe. Lennon talked his pal into spending the money from the sale of a painting into buying a bass guitar and suddenly "The Silver Beatles" had a new bassist--albeit one that couldn't play any instrument but that soon changed.
This terrific film chronicles the early days of the band in Hamburg before they broke it big and the strong friendship of Lennon and Sutcliffe. Ian Hart virtually steals the film from Stephen Dorf (who's also quite good)capturing Lennon's swagger and sarcastic wit in full stride. Directly Ian Softley focuses more on the duo of Lennon and Sutcliffe than the rest of the band chronicling their friendship. Sutcliffe never lived to see Lennon and the rest of the band achieve their dreams of going to the top and conquer the world. It's a fascinating glimpse into the past and it's clear that Softley did quite a bit of research to make this marvelous film. Hart had played Lennon once before in "The House and Times" a film that portrayed a supposed homosexual fling between Lennon and the band's manager Brian Epstein.
Most of the performances capture the essence of the The Beatles even if they don't always look exactly like the people their playing. The duo Hart and Gary Bakewell at least resemble Lennon and McCartney. While Softley claims he was trying to capture the raw sound of the band in the beginning (which I'm sure he does), my only complaint is that the singers don't sound all that much like Lennon or McCartney. Still, the supporting musicians drawn from members of REM, Afgan Wigs, Nirvana and other groups do create quite a sound.
The big difference between this and the bare bones release of a couple of years ago are all the extras: We get Ian Softley's "Sundance Channel Interview"; an interview of Softley and Hart discussing the making of the film; an audio interview with Astrid Kirchherr (with old photos of her, Stu and others along with footage from the film to illustrate what she's saying); two deleted scenes; footage of "the band" of actors rehearshing; audition video shot for the movie; behind-the-scenes photos and an audio commentary from the director. Univeral has done an exceptional job in remastering the video and audio.
It's a terrific package. I'm glad that this drama has finally made it to DVD in such a deluxe presentation. Take a trip into the past and rediscover what made The Beatles so special to begin with in "Backbeat"."
This movie rocked and rolled
M. R. Sheffield | 05/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has everything from tear-jerking emotion to all-out action. The actors portraying the characters of John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe (Ian Hart and Stephen Dorff) are fantastic in their roles as do-or-die best friends. This movie really captured the rough and tumble action of the early days of the Beatles, and the heartbreakingly deep friendship between John and Stu. The acting is amazing and really grabs you by the heartstrings. I never cry during movies, but the ending to this one had me bawling, something that's very rare. But despite this, Backbeat is a wonderful mix of charismatic fun, tough attitudes, unbreakable friendships, betrayl, and of course great music. This is by far the best movie made about the Beatles, and even if you aren't a fan of theirs you won't be able to help yourself from liking this non-stop thrill ride of a movie. I also loved the way it gives long over-due credit to to my personal favorite member of the early group, Stuart Sutcliffe, who died before the band made it big, and left the future biggest band in the world, for love and to do what he wanted to do despite the fact that it was one of the hardest things he ever did because of his friendship with John. In short, this movie was a really well-crafted piece of entertainment that also serves to give respect to one of the least well-known but greatest painters of our time who was also a big influence on the greatest band of all time."
The long and winding road to fame
Kona | Emerald City | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the story of the early trials and tribulations of John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, art students and rock musicians from Liverpool. They were scrappy trouble-makers when they formed the Beatles with Paul, George, and Pete Best and went to play in the shabby strip clubs of Hamburg, hoping to make a name for themselves. There, Stuart met and fell in love with photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Although he was very close to John, Stuart chose to leave the group and stay with Astrid, just before the Beatles released their first record.
Ian Hart (Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) gives an explosive performance as John Lennon. Being a native of Liverpool, Hart gets the accent right and conveys John's scruffy, irreverent attitude and love of music. American actor Stephen Dorff does a good job as the sensitive, doomed Stuart. None of the actors look much like their characters, but they do project a believable image of the group.
The songs (none of which are by Lennon-McCartney) were sung by members of established bands such as REM. The sleazy locations in Liverpool and Hamburg contribute to the rag-tag feeling of the movie. In spite of ample profanity and nudity, this is a movie that Beatles fans will enjoy, and the DVD has many interesting extras."