15. The British Invasion of the 1960s
It is one thing to read about the mass hysteria which surrounded some of the British musical acts in the early 1960s, both in the UK and the United States. It is altogether another thing to see them on film, from newsreels, television news reports, documentaries, and feature films. The images of police officers in London, across European cities, in New York, holding back teeming crowds by linking arms against the surging mass, must be seen to appreciate the frenzy. Film presents Beatlemania, with the police holding back crowds, carrying those overwhelmed to safety, and protecting the artists in the eye of the storm. Modern eyes are often amazed to see the police were not equipped in riot gear, as they would be today.
Films made at the time to exploit the popularity of several bands from Britain and the United States offer a time capsule of the era. It was an age of innocence, bemused parents, frenzied teenagers (and pre-teens), sardonic reporters, and exploitive businesses. Band members appeared on lunchboxes, as dolls, on posters, as caricatures, on collecting cards. The frenzy known as Beatlemania lasted about four years in Europe, three in the United States, recorded on film around the world. Today fans of the band can listen to their music through diverse media, and read the hundreds of books and thousands of articles written about the band’s history, but only on film does their visceral impact on millions of fans appear.