First shown in part in 1995 as a three-night TV event, the aptly named The Beatles Anthology remains the definitive Beatleography. At an epic 11 hours – nearly twice what was seen on ABC – it’s a chronological assemblage of interviews, concert footage, news stories, and home movies, exhaustively documenting the Fab Four’s rise from Liverpool youths to struggling club band to global pop phenomenon to world changers on the brink of implosion. Eschewing the input of wives, children, fellow rock stars, etc., the doc puts all its stock in the insights from the only men who really knew what it meant to be a Beatle.
The special features include an in-the-studio deconstruction of some of the band’s more experimental music (”I’m Only Sleeping,” ”Tomorrow Never Knows”), and a making-the-video segment for the 1995 ”reunion” single ”Free as a Bird.” But the only truly must-see extra is the one that finds Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in a sort of group interview at Harrison’s estate in 1994, a casual get-together that consists mostly of them hanging out, playing music, and trading reminiscences that are as intimate as they are inconsequential. Of course, the absence of any new reflections by John Lennon leaves a hole that all the old tales can’t fix. One can only imagine how the most visionary Beatle would have added to an already fascinating retrospective.