Backbeat (1994) Poster


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  • Backbeat is a fictionalized account of the pre-fame days of the Beatles, from the time they left Liverpool in August of 1960 for a gig in Hamburg, Germany until Stuart Sutcliffe's death in April, 1962 . Although the film features all four Beatles -- John Lennon (Ian Hart), Paul McCartney (Gary Bakewell), George Harrison (Chris O'Neill), and Ringo Starr (Paul Duckworth) -- plus two early Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) and Pete Best (Scot Williams), the movie concentrates on the relationship between Lennon and Sutcliffe.

  • On the Backbeat DVD, there's an interview with director Iain Softley in which he says that the story was based mainly on first-hand interviews with Sutcliffe's German girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr (Sheryl Lee).

  • The title comes from a Chuck Berry song called Rock'n'Roll Music. The lyrics go: Just let me hear some of that rock'n'roll music / any old way you choose it / It's got a backbeat, you can't lose it / any old time you use it. / It's gotta be rock'n'roll music / if you wanna dance with me. A backbeat is a rhythmic accent on the second and fourth beats of a measure in 4/4 time...the signature beat of rock and roll music.

  • If by "real", you mean Liverpudlian, the answer is yes for Ian Hart (Lennon) and Scot Williams (Best), both of whom were born in Liverpool. Stephen Dorff (Sutcliffe) was born in Georgia, USA, and Chris O'Neill (Harrison) was born in Bristol, England. The birthplaces of Gary Bakewell (McCartney) and Paul Duckworth (Starr) are not available.

  • Edith Piaf (née Edith Gassion) [1915-1963] was a renown French singer. Nicknamed La Môme Piaf (English: Little Sparrow) because of her diminutive size (she was all of 4 feet 8 inches tall), Edith Piaf rose from being a street urchin singing for her supper to becoming the most celebrated and loved singer in all of France. For some, Edith Piaf IS France. Edith's life can be seen in the biopic La môme (2007) (2007) aka La Vie en Rose. Marion Cotillard plays Edith Piaf with such accuracy that, at times, she seems to become the little sparrow herself.

  • After being sent back to Liverpool due to George being underage, the Beatles land a job playing at the Cavern Club, where they quickly gain a reputation and a following. After George's 18th birthday in February 1961, they return to Hamburg and resume playing there, but Stu's heart is no longer in it. One evening while partying, Stu collapses as he attempts to limbo under a limbo bar and learns that he's had a stroke. The doctor advises him to slow down and lay off booze and speed. Stu decides to take the doctor's advice, asks Astrid to marry him, and gets accepted at an art school. He quits the band, Paul takes over playing the bass, the Beatles return to the Cavern, and Stu moves in with Astrid. One day he comes home to find Astrid and Klaus together, just holding hands as they listen to news of the Berlin wall going up, and gets so angry he comes unglued, tossing red paint all over the room. As the popularity of the Beatles continues to soar, Stu starts suffering from more and more fits. One evening as Stu is relaxing on the couch, Astrid leaves the room to slip into a new dress. While she is gone, Stu suffers another stroke and collapses on the floor. By the time Astrid returns to the room, Stu is dead. On one of their concert tours, the Beatles return to Hamburg. When John learns that Stu is dead, he falls into Astrid's arms and cries. Astrid attends a Beatle concert to see them playing to a packed audience of screaming fans. In the final scene, as captions describe the futures of the Beatles, Klaus Voorman, and Astrid Kirchherr, Stu, John, Astrid, and Cynthia are seen frolicking on a beach during happier days.

  • The official cause of death was a brain hemorrhage, caused when an artery in the brain bursts and bleeds into the surrounding tissues. The most common cause of brain hemorrhage for those under 50 is head trauma. Other causes may include high blood pressure (which can weaken vessel walls), blood vessel abnormalities present from birth, bleeding disorders such as hemophilia or sickle cell anemia, brain tumors, and liver disease. The opening scenes of the movie show Sutcliffe being beaten about the head by a group of ruffians, giving the impression that such trauma might have eventually led to his brain hemorrhage. According to Dr Peter Hammelhoff, Director of Medicine at the Hamburg Hospital where Sutcliffe was taken after his collapse, the cause of the brain hemorrhage was drug related, a result of alcohol and Preludin abuse.


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