By Claire Booth
A lot of a writer’s life is watching people. Observing, analyzing, theorizing. Then you take that material and you form it into fictional characters. Those observations usually fall into just two categories. The first is people you know—family, friends, co-workers—although those observations are always colored by your personal history with them. The second is people you see briefly—the local coffee shop barista, the guy on the street corner with the “Stop Nuclear War” sign, a politician getting interviewed on the nightly news.
Any of these can create the spark for a character. But seldom do you get a deep dive into people who you don’t know. Sure, there’s reality TV, but those shows are guiding you to a particular view, through editing and those little talking-to-the-camera interviews that the participants do.
That’s why the new Beatles documentary is so fascinating. There are no confessional re-hashes and no late-in-life reminisces. Just pure unadorned footage of four people trying to figure out whether to stay in what amounts to a marriage.
For a writer, this is an incredible window into human behavior. For a Beatles fan (full disclosure: I’ve been a huge one since childhood, listening to them on vinyl with my dad), it’s an incredible gift.