A Hard Day's Night doesn't really have much of a plot. The Beatles screw around on their way to filming a TV show, dodging fans and being bombarded by Paul's Grandpa. They often break into song, which sounds like it's stupid but it's so much fun. I really just felt this. I like their music, and I was so happy to see their sixties style. It felt so...mod. I kept saying to Anthony, "What do you think it was like to watch this when it came out?" It was hard to imagine the revolution that they inspired, the rebellious way the acted and the way it made people feel.
Ebert tries to sum this up for young people like me in his essay, writing, "The Beatles were obviously not housebroken. The American rock stars who preceded them had been trained by their managers; Presley dutifully answered interview questions like a good boy. The Beatles had a clone look--matching hair and clothes--but they belied it with the individuality of their dialogue, and there was no doubt which one was John, Paul, George and Ringo. The original version of Alun Owen's Oscar-nominated screenplay supplied them with short one-liners (in case they couldn't act), but they were naturals, and new material was written to exploit that. They were the real thing" (The Great Movies, 216). They did something different in this movie - they became what we think of as rock stars. People who do their own thing, cannot be wrangled by their managers, and spend their days having entertaining escapades. People try to control them throughout the movie and get them to behave, but they cannot be stopped. They started it. We wouldn't have rock music as it is today without them. I mean, people my age (and myself) think that grunge was so revolutionary, but we wouldn't have had grunge without John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
The style of this movie might feel familiar, and it's so hard to describe the effect it might have had if you are my age. I didn't live through this. I can tell you a lot about grunge, but nothing about the 1960's. But Ebert can tell us. He writes, "When a film is strikingly original, its influence shapes so many others that you sometimes can't see the newness in the first one. Godard's jump cuts in "Breathless" (1960) turned up in every TV ad. Truffaut's freeze frame at the end of "The 400 Blows" (1959) became a cliche. Richard Lester's innovations in "A Hard Day's Night" have become familiar; because the style, the subject and the stars are so suited to one another, the movie hasn't become dated. It's filled with the exhilaration of four musicians who were having fun and creating at the top of their form and knew it" (The Great Movies, 216-217). We might not be able to see what was new about this drama-that-looks-like-documentary style, but it was new then.
If you like the 60's, or more importantly, The Beatles, you have to rent this and watch it. It's so much fun, and the music and sound is incredible. It's such a...feeling, this movie, An era that I didn't live through but I felt the magic of. It's not like you have to think about it, really - just sit back and enjoy the music and the antics. If you check this out, let me know!
Have any of you seen A Hard Day's Night? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on A Hard Day's Night