The Atlantic

If the Beatles Had Been One Man

In the fantastical Yesterday, the only person in the world who remembers the Fab Four takes the band’s music as his own. How the film reimagines an iconic oeuvre through a single voice.
Source: Universal Pictures

Months before shooting began on Yesterday, the director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) presented a wish list of Beatles songs to his star, Himesh Patel, an actor best known for his work on the British soap opera EastEnders. In Boyle’s film, written by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Patel’s Jack Malik, an aspiring musician, becomes the only man in the world to remember the Fab Four ever existed. The list was lengthy, Patel recalls, and at the top Boyle had written the titular track, “Yesterday,” in big, bold letters, with a box drawn around it.

Boyle and Curtis had approvals from the surviving Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and from the

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