A Hard Day’s Night and Help Blu-Ray Reviews
Even though the Beatle’s A Hard Days Night was produced before Help, the new 5-1 mix of the earlier film has the better surround mix.
The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night was reissued on Blu-ray and DVD last summer. It marks the 50th anniversary of the film, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock movies ever made.
Originally released in the height of “Beatlemania,” the black and white film chronicles several days in the lives of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, as they manage their meteoric rise to fame. For United Artists Records, the film (CAT# UAS 6366) was considered secondary to soundtrack, which features hits like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” She Loves You,” and “And I Love Her.” Time Magazine called the film “[o]ne of the smoothest, freshest, funniest films ever made for purposes of exploitation.”
A Hard Day’s Night first debuted on American television in 1967. Over the years, it has been reissued on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc (1984) and DVD (1997). The film’s soundtrack first appeared on CD in 2000 (CAT# UAS 6366). In 2002, Miramax released a collector’s edition DVD, which featured more than seven hours of bonus footage, such as interviews with the cast and crew.
The latest edition of A Hard Day’s Night (CAT# B001
9700-02) features a 4K digital film restoration approved by director Richard Lester along with two new soundtracks from Apple records — one in uncompressed monaural and another in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The box for A Hard Day’s Night comes with a book, the Blu-Ray and two DVDs. As with most re-releases, A Hard Day’s Night includes a lot bonus material, including a documentary of the making of the film, interviews with the Beatles, the original trailer, and a deleted scene.
Be sure to buy the A Hard Day’s Night edition released in 2014 by The Criterion Collection and not the prior Blu-ray version issued by Miramax in 2010, which was widely criticized as being “faux” 5.1 because it was taken from restored mono audio and not the master tracks.
The 2014 release is true high-definition sound. Giles Martin, the man behind the new 192-kHz/24-bit 5.1 mix, is the son of The Beatles’ original producer Sir George Martin. He previously did the surround mix for the LOVE soundtrack in 2008, which won him a Grammy Award. From a new high-tech studio at Abbey Road, he was able to take the original session tapes that his father recorded with the band more than 50 years ago and create a stellar new mix.
The Beatles 1965 film Help, reissued by Capitol Records in 2014 (C
AT# B001970602) features a digitally restored film and a 5.1 soundtrack. The editors cropped the original film from the British standard of the 1960s to allow it to fit the wide screen televisions in most households of the present era..
Originally released in 1965, Help (CAT# SMAS 2386) was also directed by Richard Lester and features hits such as “You’re Going To Lose That Girl,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” and ‘Ticket To Ride.”
Since the 5.1 surround version of any Beatles tune is not “pure” or true to the artist’s original intent, the surround remix becomes an independent artistic work as a remix. Not only did 5.1 surround sound not exist when Help was made, but the entire Beatles book of music was mastered by the artists themselves in mono since stereo was new in the 1960s.
On the 2014 remix available on Blu Ray, both a repurposed stereo as well as surround track were created, and both of those options are presented in lossless formats, LPCM 2.0 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
Judging he remix of Help as art separate from the Beatle’s original, the remix does not compare favorably with the remix in the Beatle’s, A Hard Days Night. Even though the original Help was produced after A Hard Days Night, the surround mix is not as well done on the 2014 re-issue.
The surround mix of Help does not offer the same quality of im
mersion as the surround mix of A Hard Days Night. The channel separation seems more contrived and the upconversion to high resolution does not add as much to Help as it did to A Hard Days Night.
On a positive note, the low end is full bodied without adding any muddiness or overpowering element to the midrange or high end. Fidelity in both music and dialogue is excellent. Dynamic range is also wide and nuanced.