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A Hard Day's Night(1964)
A rock and roll adventure that follows "a day in the life" of those four lads from Liverpool who made music history as The Beatles. This musical "mockumentary" leads us into the madness of the fab four's everyday lives where the simple act of traveling from Liverpool to London for a television performance involves escaping from the invasion of a mob of fainting teenagers, outwitting a hungry pack of newspaper reporters, and stopping Paul's meddlesome grandfather from breaking the band apart. Cus' you know, you can't do that.
For more about A Hard Day's Night and the A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray release, see A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 2, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Richard Lester
Writer: Alun Owen
Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison (I), Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington
» See full cast & crew
A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 2, 2014
Nominated for two Academy Awards, Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original rerelease trailers for the film; documentary film produced by Walter Shenson; Richard Lester's early short film "The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film" (1960); audio commentary featuring various members of the film's cast and crew; exclusive new video piece featuring story editor and screenwriter Bobbie O'Steen and music editor Suzana Peric; Martin Lewis' documentary "Things They Said Today" (2002); and a lot more. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Richard Lester's pseudo-documentary A Hard Day's Night has that unique energy that is present in many of Jean-Luc Godard's early films. It is so overwhelming that it is almost irrelevant where the film wants to go and how it wants to get there.
The film beings in Liverpool, where George, John, Paul, and Ringo board a train together with their manager Norm (Norman Rossington) and Paul's grandfather (Wifred Brambell). They are on their way to London, where the Beatles are scheduled to perform live on a popular TV show. While traveling, the boys try to relax but are frequently annoyed by pretentious adults and distracted by beautiful young girls.
In London, the boys are constantly on the move -- they meet curious reporters, talk to excited producers, and routinely try to avoid large crowds of screaming girls. They never seem to have any free time to rehearse or entertain themselves.
Hours before the band is to perform live, Ringo disguises himself with a trenchcoat and disappears. The show's producer (Victor Spinetti) panics and everyone goes on the streets looking for Ringo.
The film was scripted but it frequently looks and feels like George, John, Paul, and Ringo are simply being themselves while Lester's camera observes them from afar. The magic is in the careful framing and editing. The entire film is essentially a large collection of uneven episodes blending behind- the-scenes footage with music clips that remind of the various music mockumentaries MTV popularized. However, these episodes are so effectively framed and edited that the energy they sustain until the final credits roll makes it quite easy for one to believe that George, John, Paul, and Ringo might have been unaware that Lester's camera was filming them.
Quite predictably, the music is superb. There are fabulous performances of such classics as "A Hard Day's Night", "Tell Me Why", "If I Fell", "And I Love Her", "Can't Buy Me Love", and "I Should Have Known Better".
A Hard Day's Night was the third studio album the Beatles recorded and the first to be recorded entirely on four-track tape. Initially, side one of the LP featured the songs that were used in the film's soundtrack, while side two featured songs that were composed for the film but were not included on the soundtrack.
In the U.S, a different version of the album was released. In addition to the songs from the UK version, there were four instrumental tracks from the film's soundtrack performed by George Martin's Orchestra. The U.S. version of A Hard Day's Night was released a month before the UK version (in late June 1964).
The original soundtrack of A Hard Day's Night was in mono. However, because the studio album was recorded entirely on four-track tape, consequently a stereo versions of it was created. Criterion's Blu-ray release of A Hard Day's Night comes with three different audio options: Dual Mono (LPCM 2.0), Stereo (LPCM 2.0), and new 5.1 surround soundtrack (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) made by Apple Records.
A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"Approved by director Richard Lester, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanners from the 35mm original camera negative and two 35mm fine-grain master positives. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, and jitter were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, and flicker.
Transfer supervisor: Russel Smith.
Colorist: Sheri Eisenberg/Colorworks, Culver City, CA.
Additional 4K scanning: Deluxe London."
Recently restored in 4K, A Hard Day's Night looks gorgeous on Blu-ray. Indeed, there are dramatic improvements in every single area we tend to scrutinize in our reviews, from image depth and clarity to contrast stability and overall image stability. The overwhelming majority of the close-ups impress with terrific depth, while the large panoramic shots boast exceptional clarity and fluidity (see screencaptures #2 and 11). The outdoor footage, in particular, is always enormously vibrant. Contrast levels remain stable throughout the entire film. Grain is well refined and evenly distributed. Additionally, there are no traces of compromising degraining corrections and sharpening adjustments. Quite predictably, the film has a solid and enormously pleasing organic appearance. Lastly, it is very easy to tell that large debris, scratches, cuts, stains, and damage marks have been carefully removed as the film now looks incredibly clean and healthy. To sum it all up, this is indeed a very beautiful presentation of A Hard Day's Night that will likely remain the film's definitive presentation on the home video market. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Fee PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 2.0 (mono), English LPCM 2.0 (stereo), and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
I viewed the entire film with the lossless mono track and was enormously pleased with. It has excellent depth, very pleasing clarity, and good range of nuanced dynamics. The music and the dialog are also very well balanced (there are no sudden spikes or drops in dynamic activity). The dialog is clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow.
I tested select sequences with the stereo track and the new 5.1 track made by Apple Records. Both offer improved nuanced dynamics, though only the latter noticeably opens up the film in select areas. For the record, there are no problematic pops, cracks, background hiss, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Recently restored in 4K, Richard Lester's legendary film A Hard Day's Night looks spectacular on Blu-ray. I was equally impressed with the three lossless tracks that are included on Criterion's upcoming release. One of them is a new 5.1 surround soundtrack made by Apple Records that literally gives the film an entirely new identity. The release also comes with a terrific selection of supplemental features, some of which were produced exclusively for it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
A Hard Day's Night: Other Editions
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A Hard Day's Night Blu-ray, News and Updates
• In Their Own Voices: The Beatles on A Hard Day's Night - June 26, 2014
The Criterion Collection has released a new clip from a special feature included on its Blu-ray release of director Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (1964). The Blu-ray release is available for purchase online and in stores across the nation.
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 24-July 1 - June 22, 2014
For the week of June 24th, Twentieth Century Fox is bringing Warner Home Entertainment is bringing the action extravaganza 300: Rise of an Empire to Blu-ray. Other Tuesday titles include Criterion's wonderful A Hard Day's Night upgrade, Lionsgate's Blood Ties disc, ...
• A Hard Day's Night 4K Restoration Trailer - April 29, 2014
Janus Films has released a brand new trailer for Richard Lester's recently restored in 4K A Hard Day's Night (1964). The Beatles classic is set to open in theaters across the United States on the 4th of July weekend.
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