Review: A Hard Day’s Night – Richard Lester

After watching A Hard Day’s Night last month, I posted a Facebook status update that read:

watching ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ has made me feel so happy.. in a stupid screamy fan girl kinda way.

It is undeniable that the mockumentary-esque world spun by Lester, during the height of Beatlemania, with its sporadic Beatles classics and Carry On style humour, cannot help but induce happiness and that screamy fan-girl type love we all have for the Beatles.

What really strikes a chord about Lester’s film though is not just its cheap laughs and Ringo Starr’s enigmatic voice, but the beauty with which the scenes are choreographed. Mid-way through, the four Beatles revel in a local park to Can’t Buy Me Love; shot from a birds-eye view camera and jauntily sped-up, the scene is dizzying in that pleasant way like when you span round too fast as a child.

Not only this, but aesthetically the black-and-white doesn’t seem stark as it might in one of Jarmusch’s oeuvre, but rather beautifully iconographic. Considering the various Beatles album covers and the iconic Abbey Road photograph that still holds its own in print and poster sales, the film slots in perfectly with the essential Beatles look.

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It may be light-hearted, and the inclusion of a bizarre old man who is supposedly Paul’s grandpa is an odd plot-point at best, but A Hard Day’s Night has been recognised as so much of a cult classic that it’s been cited as encouraging the cult status of other British films.

The incorporation of Abbey Road sleeve shot in Trainspotting when Renton, Spud, Sick-Boy and Begby cross a London street is one such reference. According to Sarah Street, both films’ general ‘involvement in counterculture pitted against the Establishment’ increased youth market appeal in the separate decades, which worked towards their cult statuses (European Cinema: An Introduction).

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Abbey Road reference in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996)

If you don’t feel compelled to watch already: I definitely saw John Lennon disappear in the bath. John Lennon disappear in a bath? Yes, definitely happened.

 

A Hard Day’s Night, dir. Richard Lester (1964, UK)

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