A Hard Day’s Night

HDN poster

Whilst in London recently I was lucky enough to catch a screening of the famous Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night (1964) at the BFI at Southbank. I didn’t take extensive notes like I usually do, but thought I would share some thoughts in this quick review.

First up, the BFI in Southbank is a fantastic facility. With the Arc Cinema here in Canberra, an institution with ostensibly similar goals being gutted, it is great to see an archive cinema that is clearly booming and exceptionally popular. It was slightly disappointing to see that there was no real exhibition space at the facility, but in a city like London there are always other places to catch quality glimpses at film history.

HDN john

The Beatles are of course an exceptional band. I have not explored their music as much as I probably should have, but even so I would say that “Revolver” is probably the most perfect album in pop music history and a work of art to stand against any created in the 20th century. Their work veered from the heartfelt, to the experimentalism of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” to the silly. It is the latter where the film A Hard Day’s Night comes in as the fab four rollick about onscreen in what is essentially a slapstick farce. It is far from the perfection that some of their music approaches, but that probably makes it all the more fun. It takes a certain level of charm for four not great actors dicking around onscreen to be acceptable cinema entertainment. Those four guys definitely had that charisma. The film also takes some wryly amusing pokes at the frustrations that the band must have felt with the stifling fever pitch of fame that surrounded their every move. As fun as the story – which is essentially a succession of skits – is, the songs when they come along absolutely stand out and are probably reason enough to watch the film alone.

Not everyone will get much out of this. I enjoyed it and if you have even the slightest interest in the band or even slapstick comedy then you probably will too. If you are Beatles nuts like my parents who went with me to see this, you will probably absolutely adore it.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

2014 Progress: 18/101 (wow, I am going to fall miserably short of this goal)

Progress: 114/1001

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Steamboat Bill Jr and Singin’ in the Rain.

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2 responses

  1. For many years it was a tradition in my house to watch A Hard Day’s Night on New Year’s Eve. I also was lucky enough to see it in theaters at least once that I can recall, not to mention owning it on DVD (though I haven’t really seen the whole thing, beginning to end, for a few years). If you do grow up as a massive Beatles fan – I had the opposite upbringing, my parents are not interested in the Beatles at all – then the movie is not only a lot of fun, but also an amazing document of a hugely important moment in the history of popular music. Beatlemania was such a defining moment for so many people, and I feel like the ending “She Loves You” sequence is the perfect snapshot of what all those teenagers were feeling and what those four guys from Liverpool were experiencing.

    Also, I’ve paid more attention in recent years to the craft of A Hard Day’s Night, and I think it has exceptional cinematography, editing and screenwriting (although I’m not sure which parts may have been improvised rather than scripted). In any case, for me it’s an absolute classic. It’s definitely worth seeing, even if you’re not a Beatles fan, just to get a glimpse of that moment in pop culture.

    1. That’s an awesome tradition. I am trying to build up some of those specific films at specific time traditions. I think it is great. Certainly agree with you in terms of the craft. It does not just feel slapped together to cash in, like you suspect a similar film would be today. It is a really well made film.

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