Monday, 28 July 2014

UK A Hard Day's Night - review

Quad posters for the UK theatrical release of A Hard Day's Night
Today, the mailman brought me the UK edition of A Hard Day's Night on Blu-ray, and I've just watched it. Like the Dutch edition, this is just a 1-disc Blu-ray, containing both the film and some Bonus material. Unlike the Dutch version, this has several options for audio, there's no disturbing Dutch subtitles you can't turn off, and there is more in the way of bonus material.

Format: PAL
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Classification: U
Studio: Second Sight
DVD Release Date: 21 July 2014
Run Time: 84 minutes
Audio: Original mono (remastered) LPCM, new stereo remix LPCM and new 5.1 surround remix DTS-HD Master Audio by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, in addition to a cast & crew commentary audio track.
Subtitles: Optional English SDH subtitles for the hearing impaired (main title)
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1 (not quite 16:9 but almost)
Frame speed: 23.98 Frames Per Second
Quality: full HD at 1080P

The film is delivered in a slipcase holding nothing else than the blu-ray plastic case with a single sheet for front and back cover, blank white back side. There is no booklet included here.

Director Richard Lester signed a few quad posters at the launch party for the film

This UK release is similar to, but does not have all the extras of the US release from the Criterion Collection, or what seems to be the most complete release, the German DeLuxe edition by Koch.

Bonus material:
* In Their own voices - A new piece combining 1964 interviews with 'The Beatles' with behind the scenes footage and photos.
* You Can't Do That' - The Making Of 'A Hard Days Night'. Not split into chapters and the complete "You Can't Do That" tacked on to the end of this feature has visual imperfections and artifacts not present on the original You Can't Do That' - The Making Of 'A Hard Days Night' DVD fram ages ago, the same problem is also on the US edition, we have been told.
* Things We Said Today - Featuring director Richard Lester, music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen and cinematographer Gilbert Talor
* Picturewise - about Richard Lester's films, strong AHDN focus.
* Anatomy of Style - Analysis of a few key scenes in the film.
* The Beatles - The Road to 'A Hard Days Night' - Mark Lewisohn sums up the Beatles' career prior to making the film
* New 50th Anniversary Trailer

The film itself looks and sounds great, perhaps with a little too visible film grain, and the lighting in the train compartment is varying. Still, probably close to the 1964 cinema experience, which is what Criterion Collection was aiming for, with mono the preselected audio option.

From the main menu you can select chapters of the main feature, 16 in all. They all have titles:
1. A Hard Day's Night, 2. What Little Old Man?, 3. Lost And Found, 4. I Should Have Known Better, 5. I Wanna Be Your Man, 5. Press Conference, 7. If I Fell, 8. Can't Buy Me Love, 9. Trendsetter, 10. And I Love Her, 11. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You, 12. The Old Mixer, 13. Ringo Missing, 14. Police Station, 15. Tell Me Why and 16. She Loves You.

In stereo and surround, Martin has tried some repair work to fix Paul McCartney's cracked voice on the word "vain" the second time it comes around during "If I Fell". Don't know what went wrong there, as McCartney's voice comes in too early to that section, and the result is worse than the crack from the regular stereo version from the album. Harrison knocking over the amp is audible in all versions of the audio track. In stereo and surround, Martin has elected to overdub the names the audience members are mouthing in the concert sequence. It's barely audible, but is there and fit in nicely. Otherwise, the stereo mixes are new and fab, and they have even managed to make "She Loves You" sound almost stereolike.
George Martin's orchestral score has also been mixed to stereo, thanks to discovering the original 3-tracks in Hollywood, and Ringo's Theme ("This Boy") in a Shadowslike arrangement and the Brubeckesque "A Hard Day's Night" especially benefit from it.

1 comment:

ALK said...

It is possible that the "Was In... Was In Vain" was not an attempt at fixing a problem but instead was an edit that was missed. If you edit in the same beats from the first "Was In Vain" you'll find it restores the song back to what you expect it to be. So, the team may have missed making the same edit 50 years later. Paul simply came in too early during the original recording.