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The BeatlesThe Beatles Screenshot: A hard day at night

Richard Lester kicks off A Hard Day’s Night at full speed – no studio logo, no established recordings, just the crash of the title’s opening chord and three Moptops (Paul shows up later) run wildly towards the camera, followed by mad fans. However, the opening conveys a sense of liberation that the Beatles actually didn’t have, as A Hard Day’s Night will further show. The Fab Four smile broadly as they run to Liverpool train station in the opening sequence like they have the time of their lives, but it’s telling that the script they commissioned from Alun Owen is almost entirely about that How you feel trapped just months after Beatlemania (a term coined in October 1963 – filming began in March 1964). Structurally, A Hard Day’s Night is based on a climatic television performance and shows what is supposedly a typical day in the life of the Beatles. This mostly involves efforts to evade her manager (a fictional one, played here by Norman Rossington), who would prefer to see her locked in a hotel room to answer armfuls of fan mail and have some fun. In the most iconic sequence of the film, the boys sneak out of an emergency exit door while they are brought back into the room after a rehearsal and frolic around a field with the bubbling “Can’t Buy Me Love”. Lester shoots them sometimes in time-lapse, sometimes in a flurry of quick cuts, sometimes from great heights – whichever best captures the dizziness of temporarily slipping off the straitjacket of her unparalleled fame. At the same time, A Hard Day’s Night takes care not to make the Beatles appear ungrateful. For example, there is no discussion about how little the band got around to performing live (to the point where they finally gave up completely) because they can’t overhear the noise. [Mike D’Angelo]

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