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A Hard Day's Night (Criterion Collection)
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John, Paul, George and Ringo spend 36 wild hours in London.
Beatlemania is sweeping the Criterion Collection! This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ beloved musical comedy A Hard Day’s Night,and to commemorate it we’re releasing a jam-packed special edition of the film, featuring a new 4K digital restoration, a newly remixed 5.1 surround soundtrack, and hours of incredible supplements. We’re also pleased to present two other gems of sixties cool: Georges Franju’s Judex, an inventive and elegant French kidnapping caper that’s ripe for rediscovery, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s quintessential modern-age romance L’eclisse, with the gorgeous duo of Monica Vitti and Alain Delon. Then go back to the fifties for Douglas Sirk’s stunning Technicolor tearjerker All That Heaven Allows,newly restored, and ahead to the seventies for Peter Davis’s Oscar-winning documentary about the Vietnam War, Hearts and Minds, and Australian auteur Peter Weir’s mysterious breakthrough masterpiece, Picnic at Hanging Rock. These are all essential and unforgettable works of cinema.
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A Hard Day's Night remains as fun and fresh today as the day it came out and took everyone by surprise - the surprise being how fun and fresh it was. Richard Lester was the absolute perfect choice for director, and The Beatles are just so utterly charming, and the entire supporting cast is brilliantly chosen.
Now, to the point: I'm reviewing - and I know this is crazy - the item that's actually pictured on this page - not a DVD, not some other earlier release, the Criterion special edition, which is, after all, what you'll be purchasing from this item page. This is a huge upgrade from all previous releases - it looks great and more importantly it sounds great, and with this film visual and audio share equal importance. Extras are fun although I don't care about them - the film's the thing and this is a stellar presentation. This is the only version you want.
Making it fun (of course) is the music but this is The Beatles at infancy. Pure, unique and all shot in the UK in stunning BLACK & WHITE.
This film never gets old. Yes, maybe play it once and then put it away for a few years but that same thrill ride will come back with some amazing songs.
The perks: Upgraded to 4K and sound in 5.1. That alone justifies the purchase!
I just reveled in the fun and the great music. But those who want to know where it came from will appreciate the little book that comes with the DVD. There's commentary about the place of this film in pop culture, its influences, its role in a class society, and how the documentary flavor was achieved. The director's creative vision is contrasted with his exuberant, deliberate lack of planning. For serious film buffs, there are factoids about cameras and film type used, techniques of shooting and editing, and the behind- the-scenes lowdown on specific scenes.
The production values of this DVD are stellar. Current technology was used to great effect to clean up the quality of aging video and audio.
It's a wonderful addition to my Beatles library. I heartily recommend this "box set" to anyone who grew up with The Beatles as I did, or who just want this most perfect introduction to them and their incomparable charm and sound.
You may also see a listing of A Hard Day's Night Blu-Ray that was released in Canada around 2010. This is a different version that has a 5.1-channel track "created from" the restored mono audio. It was mush and very tough to listen to. Please don't get fooled with this version.
The new 2014 version has the music audio taken directly from the multitrack master elements as well as the dialog from the restored audio. This should be the definitive version from a long time to come.
Looking forward to hearing this version.
Top international reviews
The restored film itself was shown on BBC4 recently to coincide with the films 50th anniversary so you may have seen it already - but even on BBC4 HD the resolution would not have been as good as the Blu-ray Disc version. So that is really the point of this release - even though the film was shot in black and white over 50 years ago the new 4K remaster makes it look as though it could have been filmed this year. The sound has also been improved with the mono soundtrack now being joined by new stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes by producer Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell at Abbey Road.
This release is obviously a must for most Beatles fans but the more casual viewer may be content with an earlier DVD version if they have one. There is no booklet included here, the detail on the cover is fairly limited and the bonus features are just OK. The restoration of the film and sound make this an unreserved five star release, and I guess Second Sight Films have done the best they could with the resources available to them. Not quite the product Apple could have produced had it been their call, however.
A couple of technical points about the video restoration - although the remaster was into 4K the Blue-ray Disc format only gives us full HD at 1080P, the aspect ratio here is 1.75:1 (not quite 16:9 but almost) and the speed is 23.98 Frames Per Second. This UK release is similar to, but does not have all the extras of, the US release from the Criterion Collection.
The 50th anniversary edition features a cleaned and restored print of the movie and a whole bagful of extras that are entertaining in their own right. Probably best not to watch all of them in one sitting as I did, since depending on the same source material in many cases, there is a fair level of repetition, particularly in the interview sequences.
But regardless of the extras - just enjoy The Fabs' first and best foray into the movies.
to Beatlemania circa 1964.
A different society, different constraints.
It was this film apparently that encouraged the
group the Byrds to take up chiming Rickenbackers.
(Many guitar books subsequently attribute the fame of the guitar
to the Byrds.....odd... as it was George and John who used them.)
The film also led to the creation of The Monkees as imitations of the fun,fab,mop top Beatles
portrayed in the film.
The music and sound now in surround format take on a new lease of life as you hear it all around you and the picture is so clear too.