The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney
Extras: Featurettes, Interviews, Screenplay, Website Archive

The collaboration of Richard Lester and The Beatles brought forth two funny movies during the heydays of the Fab Four. While by today’s standard these are innocent, harmless and silly little flicks they were a genuine effort on behalf of the Beatles at the time that helped to supercharge their stardom. (Fortunately these films were at least funny and solid movies, something the abysmal Mariah/Britney/insert-any-other-wanna-be-superstar efforts didn’t even manage to accomplish.)

’A Hard Day’s Night’ was the first of these films and it tells the story of the Beatles preparing for a performance on TV. We follow them through their day as they travel to their destination, constantly chased by hordes of female fans and always ready for some silly pranks. Paul’s grandfather Johnny, who comes along, doesn’t make things easier because he’s quite prankster in his won right.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is releasing ’A Hard Day’s Night’ in a beautiful black & white transfer that is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The print has been meticulously cleaned up and restored some time ago and as such the presentation is entirely free of speckles, dust and other blemishes. The image is always stable and reproduces the glorious black and white with radiant beauty. Blacks are very deep and the balanced highlights make sure the print can use the entire gamut of gradients to create an image that is very faithful and natural-looking. There is no edge-enhancement or compression artifacts visible anywhere in the presentation.

The audio on the DVD has also been restored and remixed form its original stereo elements. The track is a bit of a mixed blessing. While it is very clear and clean the remix does show some weaknesses especially when listened to on a simply stereo set up. When switching to a full surround environment it sound good and more spacious but evidently the technician remixing the track never though of casual viewers who may not have a full blown home theater set up at their disposal.

The release comes as a 2-disc set and the second disc is filled with a large number of interviews with crew members. Sadly participation of the remaining Beatles is conspicuously missing form this release, so all we get is second-hand accounts of the Beatles phenomenon. Is it interesting? Yes. Is it credible and truly valuable? Probably not. Paul and Ringo would have made it that.

The DVD also contains a number of DVD-ROM features and a new featurette entitled ’Things They Said Today…’ which his once again interesting but nothing truly spectacular. Sadly ’You Can’t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night’ is not part of the release though it would have made the perfect addendum.

Overall, ’A Hard Day’s Night’ is a good release that should please Beatles fans, especially given the pristine quality of the image. Overall however, the release turns out to be a bit disappointing as a result of the lack of real Beatles participation.