Saturday, 18 January 2014

A Hard Day's Night on Blu-ray again?

There have been strong indications that "the Citizen Kane of Jukebox movies", "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles may be on it's way back to the home video market in the USA again. The 2002 Miramax 2DVD version seems to have gone out of print, and Giles Martin is said to be working on the film's audio track.

Red frame: MPI DVD (1997) Blue frame: Miramax DVD (2000)
A comparison of the two previous DVD releases of the film shows that the 1997 release has cropped sides, whereas the 2000 release misses the top and bottom. Hopefully, a new release will bring us the full image. Of course, bootleggers have already done that, a 2006 bootleg DVD combined the MPI and Miramax images, resulting in a full picture, except for the four corners.
The Miramax release was used to make a Canadian Blu-ray in 2009, that version is also out of print now. Here's a page which compares the two DVD releases and the Blu-ray.



The French DVD release

Of course, we are not going to pretend that the American DVDs are the only ones of this film. The best presentation of the film in my collection, package-wise, is the French version. It has been released several times in France since 2003. It also features some different bonus material than the US edition:

Booklet written by Gilles Verlant booklet (12 pages)
Film Presentation by Gilles Verlant (5 minutes)
Documentary: "Things They Said Today" (38 minutes)
George Martin about the songs from the film (12 minutes)
Interviews:
- Richard Lester (17 minutes)
- Walter Shenson, producer (5 minutes)
- Alun Owen, writer (10 minutes)
- the press Beatles (18 minutes)
- Klaus Voorman, musician and friend of the Beatles (8 minutes)
Robert Freeman about his book with photos of The Beatles (15 minutes)
DVD-Rom Content:
Gallery
The script
Posters

A cryptic pencil drawing from Criterion is dropping hints that they will be releasing a Beatles title this year. It could be "Let It Be", but more realistically, it's "A Hard Day's Night". Hopefully, a release by Criterion will address and repair the shortcomings of the earlier DVD releases of the film.
Picturewise, they could get rid of the slight speckle and dirt imperfections on the previous release and restore the full image.
Audiowise, a few of the songs have always played a bit slower than on their corresponding records due to the filming of TV camera monitors in the film, which in the digital age can now easily be corrected. A choice between the original mono or a new and improved stereo soundtrack would be nice.

2 comments:

WHA Hall of Fame said...

A note about film aspect ratios: it was common in the 1950s and 1960s to shoot 35mm full frame at 4x3, with the top and bottom of the frame purposely matted when projected, usually to 1.66:1 (or 1.85:1 for later films). A Hard Day's Night was composed and designed to be projected in 1.66:1 -- the DVD and Blu Ray releases that show it in that aspect ratio are correct. Because full-frame 4x3 prints were often erroneously issued on VHS (or shown on TV for many vintage films), fans incorrectly believe that they are "missing" picture area when these films are transferred or shown on widescreen TVs in their correct ratio...

joey anthony said...

yeah but in this case you are missing seeing the whole picture.same as let it be.this movie needs to be rereleased anyways if just for the audio.the miamax version had very bad audio.all you have to do is listen to the help bluray which has excellent audio then listen to ahdn bluray audio and hear the huge difference.still hoping they release let it be and shea stadium in my lifetime.