A Hard Day’s Night

From the opening frame of A Hard Day’s Night, the screen pulsates with energy.  The Beatle’s first foray into the medium of film is exciting, original, and simply takes your breath away. 

That opening sequence consists of the band running through the streets of England, being chased by crazed fans, and eventually making there way to a train.  The title song blasts as we see the action and from that moment on a smile never left my face.  It is so refreshing to see superstars inhabit the screen with their own personalities and not be annoyed by them.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo have so much fun running around in this movie that it is almost impossible not to have a good time with them.

Just for the record, the plot of this film revolves around the group as they prepare for a television concert.  Paul brings his grandfather along, but the old man continually gets into trouble.  Even though the plot is so paper thin, the anti-establishment mentality and feeling in the picture carries it beyond anything you can imagine.  In 1964 when the movie was released, rock and roll was not taken very seriously as an art form and the musicians were taken even less seriously.  Sure, teenage girls loved The Beatles, but who cares what teenage girls like?

Celebrities were supposed to love being interviewed, dress appropriately, and act according to societies preconceived notions.  A Hard Day’s Night showed how little the greatest rock and roll band of all time appreciated the tight boundaries they were supposedly confined in.  Whenever there is an opportunity, the band runs out of confinement (indoors) and enjoy themselves in the freedom of the outdoors.  One scene in particular stands out.  When the boys are supposed to be getting ready for rehearsal, they sneak out of a side door and play games in an open field.  The scene is played in fast-motion, signifying how much faster and better freedom is than the slow boredom of protocol.  It ends with an older man telling them that the field is private property, another instance of society ruining a good time.

Probably the most notable scene comes at the end of the film when The Beatles actually play the television concert in front of a live audience.  Director Richard Lester inter-cuts the energetic and joyous faces of the fab-four with the screaming frenzy of the fans in what is one of the most memorable moments in cinema.  Not many movies can create such energy and excitement.  One girl in the audience even cries and continually yells “George”, seeming to have lost almost all control of her emotions.

What The Beatles did for rock and roll and what this film did for the rock and roll movie was change the game.  Boys started growing their hair out because The Beatles had long hair.  Bands started trying to be anti-establishment until that became the norm (which means it’s no longer that anti-establishment or crazy).  Everybody wanted to be care-free and happy, which brought about the hippie generation.  Some would argue that almost all of these things stem from this film and this band.  Talk about influential.  I will end this review with a quote from Roger Ebert’s review of the movie in his Great Movie section:

“The innocence of the Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night was of course not to last. Ahead was the crushing pressure of being the most popular musical group of all time, and the dalliance with the mystic east, and the breakup, and the druggy fallout from the ’60s, and the death of John Lennon. The Beatles would go through a long summer, a disillusioned fall, a tragic winter. But, oh, what a lovely springtime. And it’s all in a movie.”

2 thoughts on “A Hard Day’s Night”

  1. Your introduction to this critique captured my attention, and, having seen the film, I agree that it accurately described A Hard Day’s Night. The film, and its main “characters”, thrive on the hysteria of the Beatles’ fans, as you refer to the cross-cuts of “the energetic and joyous faces of the fab-four with the screaming frenzy of the fans in what is one of the most memorable moments in cinema.”

    I have criticism, mainly, with your fourth and sixth paragraphs. “Celebrities were supposed to love being interviewed, dress appropriately, and act according to societies preconceived notions.” Celebrities have a set norm in place, just like any other group, but, aside from “to love being interviewed”, the other two traits apply to any group, not celebrities alone. And I don’t believe the Beatles disliked interviews in particular; they simply prefered to harmlessly mock – without offending – the stuffiness of the world around them. That is why the film possesses such charm – The Beatles’ innocence and youth makes the Fab Four the heralds of the 60’s generation.

    Also, by saying “A Hard Day’s Night showed how little the greatest rock and roll band of all time appreciated the tight boundaries they were supposedly confined in”, several words seem to suggest that your article would consider the anti-establishment attitude to be negative, even though the rest of your review praises the film and discusses it as a positive. “how little [they] appreciated the tight boundaries” suggests that they underappreciated the value of rules, rather than defying constrictions. The word “supposedly” means that you do not believe they were actually confined to these rules.

    “The scene is played in fast-motion, signifying how much faster and better freedom is than the slow boredom of protocol.” The fast-motion could signify the hyperness of freedom as opposed to monotonous protocol, but no connection exists that freedom is better because of the scene being in fast-motion. The Beatles are happier and free and that is symbolized by the fast-motion and their happiness is better. But to say that the scene proves that freedom is better than protocol is not a fact. Avoid a word like “better”.

  2. i think this article was fairly accurate, but not very thorough in addressing this momumental film. Many issues were glossed over, like its impact on the world of music and film and its unique innovation for its time(nothing like it had ever been done before, especially that mainstream) I did feel the comment about the beatles and their anti-establishment attitude was a very valid point, often overlooked by a public that just wanted to see the beatles singing and joking, and not looking at all below the surface into greater themes. The Beatles seem to resist the interviews, making a joke out of them, rather than being flattered or excited by the attention. They refuse to answer their letters, disobey their manager, and leave their own show. Ringo personally leaves the band in search of greater fullfillment of life, John is a smartass to the manager, Paul just wants to dance and meet women, and George refuses to work for a mainstream fashion magazine. This all seems like a rejection of the “protocol” and an embracing of “freedom” to me.I felt the points made in this review were legitimate, but not well-rounded or well-developed enough to be truly informative, interesting, and clear to the reader. In conclusion, it was fairly well done though, with unique points and good delivery.

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