In the Yesterday Movie, a miracle somehow consigns the Beatles to oblivion. But it also produces several other changes that are mentioned in the movie without much explanation. Cigarette smoking seems to have been forgotten, and Coca Cola, and here and there a few other things. Several musical groups that existed in fact are noted in the movie for their non-existence.

  • My take on all of this was that other changes resulted from the disappearance of the Beatles.
  • But my son, who saw the movie with me, thought that at least some of these changes were independent and not results of the Beatles' disappearance.

Neither alternative seems perfectly sensible to me.

Why did they made those changes in the story?


I just re-read this post (with comments and answers) long after the original post, and I'm struck with a perverse urge to clarify.

It seems to me that the Beatles' disappearance was a miracle to benefit Jack, a struggling musician who is thinking of quitting music. This theory is what makes the movie emotionally satisfying: he needed a miracle, and he got one, "and in the end" he showed that the Beatles influenced him not just win wealth and fame (to his advantage) but also to tell the truth (at least seemingly to his disadvantage). And of course it also suggests something about the merit of the Beatles' songs that is very gratifying to their fans today.

So while the film-makers may have said that they're not interested in the mechanics of how an event could un-happen, I'm still interested in how these other changes make sense within the fantastic theory. It can't be that the film-makers intended to pose only the question of whether the Beatles' music would be popular under the circumstances of the film (introduced at a late date, performed thus, etc); if that were the only interest, there would be no relevance to the long introduction about Jack's struggles to make it as a musician and about how much it would mean to him.

  • There are several forum discussions on the Beatles smoking habits, so it's plausible in the universe of the movie that their absence influenced that. Perhaps it was all for building up the 'strangeness' of several things missing in that universe. – Luciano Jul 24 '19 at 13:44
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    this is an interesting question, why some of those things were missing, but IMO the part What were all of the changes may put this question off-topic. I edited the question little bit without it, if you're not happy with it, please do a rollback. – Vishwa Jul 25 '19 at 3:57
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    When I saw the movie, it just seemed to me that a handful of things disappeared from the world. I didn't ever think they were related. I'd be curious why they "don't make sense". (And for the record, the course of pop music was so affected by The Beatles' music that removing them from history would have drastically altered pop music as the main characters know it.) – BrettFromLA Jul 25 '19 at 15:30
  • @BrettFromLA They're voting to close, and I don't know if I'll make matters better or worse by commenting. But "no Beatles therefore no Coca Cola" doesn't make sense to me. Why should the absence of Beatles cause an absence of Coca Cola? But if the miracle was performed to make Jack a star (after he said that miracle would be the only way etc) then why would a bunch of irrelevant miracles also occur? From your comment it sounds like you think that the answer is "for no reason," that changes just happen at random. I would see that as not perfectly sensible. – Chaim Jul 25 '19 at 16:31
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    @Chaim I noticed the answer that BCdotWEB added. He says that the screenwriter (Richard Curtis) never bothered to come up with a reason. Maybe he just peppered the absences throughout the movie as jokes, without thinking of the ramifications? I agree that it's not very sensible. But it seems that it's still the answer. – BrettFromLA Jul 25 '19 at 17:25

The changes likely happened because they were fodder for "fish out of water" jokes, e.g. Jack asking for a "Coke".

The movie's writer Richard Curtis has said that he isn't interested in the mechanics of how the blackout worked:

But we never find out why a blackout causes the world to forget about the Beatles or why Jack remembers them.

It didn’t matter for the film’s primary screenwriter, Richard Curtis. Where many films go out of their way to justify elaborate or quirky premises, Curtis opted to focus only on the existential questions the story posed: How would the Beatles fare if they debuted in 2019? Are performances as important as compositions? And what about the ethics of claiming ownership of music that isn’t yours? Is it stealing if the band didn’t exist to begin with?

  • So your answer is that there's really no explanation whether Coke disappears BECAUSE the Beatles disappeared, or whether it's an independent change. – Chaim Jul 25 '19 at 14:51
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    @Chaim If the screenwriter doesn't know, then nobody knows! – BrettFromLA Jul 25 '19 at 15:31
  • I read your linked article until I was told I could not proceed in Private Mode. The author seemed not to know that the miracle occurred to allow a mediocre musician to become a giant. His real mediocrity showed that his celebrity was entirely a tribute to the greatness of Beatles music. And the story arc is that in the end Jack told the truth, inspired by the lesson of truth-promoter John Lennon. So both his rise to celebrity and his fall therefrom are tributes to the greatness of the Beatles. – Chaim Jul 25 '19 at 16:39

"other changes resulted from the disappearance of the Beatles"

Coca-Cola® has been around since 1886. We can be sure that its existence doesn't depend in any way on anything the Beatles did or did not do.

If these weren't independent changes (Mandela Effect - Wikipedia), and the loss of Coke® is the oldest change referred to in the film, then perhaps that's what affected everything else.


Since the movie is based on magical realism (in a nutshell: magic that cannot be explained), there doesn't have to be an explanation for anything. However, I think there has to be some logical reason the writer(s) zapped certain things from the new timeline.

It is possible the reason Coke disappeared had nothing to do with the Beatles, and everything to do with Oasis. "Oasis were sued by Coca-Cola and forced to pay $500,000 in damages to the New Seekers after it was alleged that the Oasis song "Shakermaker" had lifted words and melody from "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". When asked about the incident, Noel Gallagher joked "Now we all drink Pepsi." if you follow the logic (illogical?) of magic realism, Oasis, who was inspired by the Beatles, would not have existed if the Beatles did not exist, then perhaps Coke didn't exist because Oasis drank Pepsi after the lawsuit.

It's a stretch, but you could possibly explain the non-existent of cigarettes because of the Beatles. At one time, all four of them smoked. No Beatles, no cigarettes.

Like I said, it's a stretch. The only thing I cannot come up with is even a guesstimate on why Harry Potter no longer existed, but I don't it was random. Just my two cents worth.

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