Yesterday, the Beatles looked as though they were here to stay. But now, at least in Danny Boyle’s new film, Yesterday, they’re nowhere to be seen. When Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes up in the hospital after a nasty bike collision, no one around him had heard of “Strawberry Fields” or had any idea what Mother Mary said to Paul McCartney in his darkest hour.
How this happened has captured the minds of two procrastinating Carleton students for months now, and despite their late-night debates in Sayles, they still don’t really have any idea what’s going on. So what did they do? Well, their few remaining friends got pretty tired of hearing about this movie, so the two pals decided to write a Carletonian article about their theories.
Here’s the rundown: Jack is a struggling musician from a small English town who spends more time as the opener at children’s birthday parties than he does in sold out concert venues. One day, as he’s biking home, the power goes out. Not just the streetlights around him, or even all the power in town, but all the power in the world. In the confusion, a bus slams into him, sending Jack to the hospital and into a coma.
When Ellie (Lily James), Jack’s girlfriend, presents him with a guitar as a welcome home gift, he belts out an admittedly pretty decent rendition of the famed Beatles anthem “Yesterday” for Ellie and some friends. Ellie and co. are nearly brought to tears by the apparently yet-unheard melody, and Jack soon discovers that he is the only person left in the world who has any recollection that the Beatles actually existed.
So what does Jack do? Well naturally, after some quick moral reckonings of course, he starts “writing” and singing Beatles hits, which he somehow remembers every note of perfectly (we’ll let it slide).
So what the heck is going on here? Instead of actually finishing our homework, Max and I have come up with a few theories.
What We Know (From the Trailers, No Spoilers)
We know that Jack went into a coma at almost the exact moment of the power outage, and that he appears to be the only person left on earth who remembers the Beatles. We also know that he ends up making gobs of money in a second wave of Beatlemania (Jackmania?), some of which he ends up paying to a record executive (Kate McKinnon). We also know that later in the piece, two men who claim to have written the Beatles songs join him on stage on James Cordon’s late-night talk show. And, while we don’t quite know this, we’re pretty sure that those two guys are Paul and Ringo. We only get a shot of their feet in the trailer, but we see that one of them is donning dress shoes, and the other is barefoot. As I and a few apparently equally brilliant YouTube commenters figured out, this is almost certainly a reference to the Abbey Road album cover, where Ringo and Paul (the two remaining Beatles) don dress shoes and bare their feet respectively.
Obviously it takes a lot of resources, knowhow, and movie magic to erase all semblance of the Beatles’ existence. Who has the ability and motive to do such a dastardly deed?
The Record Company
This is my (Owen’s) main theory, and is therefore the best and most thought out. It comes from simple logic: who is filthy rich, notoriously profit hungry, and the main beneficiary of a second Beatles windfall? Record labels. They know better than anyone else just how profitable the genius of the Beatles could be, and are perhaps better equipped than anyone to erase any recollection of the Beatles. Record labels definitely have enough cash on hand to wipe people’s memories and erase all physical and digital records of the most popular band of all time. Plus, they might have an easier time than most erasing the Beatles music from stores and servers everywhere since, you know, they do music stuff.
The Beatles Did It!
It’s All a Dream
I’m assuming they remember what happened after the Lost finale.
What we Can’t Explain
How could any non-divine being actually erase all evidence that John, Paul, George, and the luckiest drummer alive ever existed?
Are we seriously suggesting that a record company or the Beatles themselves were able to not only brainwash people, but also incinerate every Beatles CD and John Lennon poster in existence? Well, any explanation of this movie rests on some pretty implausible things, so yes, yes we are.
Why would a bike collision and a subsequent coma make Jack immune to whatever happened? Presumably, thousands of people around the world were in comas or asleep at exactly the same time. What makes Jack special?
The final thing we can’t explain is why we care so much about this movie. We’re sure to be disappointed by whatever the explanation is, but we’re still going to be the first ones in the theater to see it. Despite our bloated expectations, we believe in Yesterday.