When I found out that our first Cinetrek was going out to see the newly remastered "Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles, I was over the top excited!! Being a long time Beatles fan, I thought there couldn't be a better way to kick off our studies of British culture. I had read about the remastering a little before the trip and thought about going to see it. Getting to see it at the London Film Institute put me over the moon!! The 4K picture and 5.1 channel surround sound quality was nothing other than superb. It just doesn't get any better than that for me. Even though I grew up listening to the Beatles, and playing their music in bands, I never saw the movie all the way through. It's about time I did that which made the experience all the more exciting.
Professor Nericcio gave us an introduction before we went in. One of the most surprising things to me was that this movie started music television (MTV) and music videos. I might add to that the so called “British Invasion” of america by the Beatles and other Rock bands such as the “Rolling Stones”, “The Kinks”, ”The Animals”, “The Yardbirds” etc. had a major influence on the US, musically and culturally. They started wearing long hair which was unheard of for men. That change is prevalent still today and we think nothing of a man with long hair. There was a lot of cultural resistance from the older generation of the day, especially those who identified as being macho. Many of the older generation also thought their music was a threat to american culture and values as hard as that is now to believe.
Before the movie started, I started a conversation with the older gentleman sitting next to me. I asked him if he was british and he said yes. He grew up listening to the Beatles in the UK. I asked him what it was like and he said he vividly remembered the first time he saw them on the television and the excitement of Beatlemania. I also shared my experience in America and seeing them for the first time on Ed Sullivan. He said that he also never saw the movie all the way through. After it was over, we both agreed it was well worth the wait. I wish I’d thought to ask him about the acceptance by the older generation in the UK of the Beatles, their hair and their music to see if there were parallels to what happened in the US.
Since this was supposed to be about British Culture, I tried to imagine putting myself back in time to think what it must have been like to live here at that time. I also tried to look for changes over the past 50 years. Of course there were the major changes due to technology. Aside from that, cultural changes were less apparent to me, perhaps due to having just gotten to London and having a limited experience of present culture.
Musically, this observation was easy because the Beatles songs are exactly the same. Most people might not notice but there were no live performances of the Beatles. They were all studio recordings. To me that’s unfortunate because even if the live performances were imperfect, it would have led to much more realism. That was a judgment call by the producers probably wanting to make the music sound perfect for the masses. For musical purists like me, lip syncing leaves something to be desired. However, I knew that ahead of time and accepted it and thoroughly enjoyed the film.