The legacy of The Beatles is too big to imagine.
Picture it in your head: all the songs, movies, conspiracy theories, Yoko Ono, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the murders, I’m picturing it now and I can only see a fraction of this cultural Leviathan. I was never into The Beatles. I respected their place in rock and pop history, but my musical education goes no further back than Joy Division and their ilk. I tried to get into the fab four, starting with their album that usually charts highest in the greatest of all time lists, Revolver. Then I got nit-picky. It was all going so well until I got to Doctor Robert. “What the fuck is this?” I screamed to no one in particular (though my brother, sensing the imminent release of snobbery, probably told me to at least keep my bloody voice down(. “This is supposedly the work of the greatest band of all time?” I was young, I didn’t like Queen either. I’m a bit of a dick.
So, with this anecdote to my own particular skill at seeing no further than my own nose when it comes to music, why the hell did I just watch A Hard Days Night? The honest answer was to get it out of the way. Since lockdown began, I’ve been trying to plug the gaps of classic films that I had yet to watch. This mean’t a lot of Ingmar Bergman films, some Kurosawa, Easy Rider, and this – what is seen as the most influential musical film of all time.
I was genuinely expecting to be slightly annoyed for 87 minutes, but instead I found A Hard Day’s Night quite remarkable. Why, you ask? (or maybe you don’t) Think about the leviathan again, all of the shit surrounding these four Liverpudlians: somehow, despite all that, A Hard Day’s Night captures the point when The Beatles were just a pop band.
It marks a time in which the very notion of a band’s success was being created by The Beatles as they were living it. Instead of the legends of excess these types of films would become, A Hard Day’s Night is an artifact that shows the crossroads before all of this stuff became the norm.
These are the most famous young men on the planet, running from hundreds of screaming female fans. Their songs are all about love, and wanting that special lady to hold your hand, yet any time the foursome get near a woman, their mother-hen of a manager tells them to basically fuck off home to bed, you”ve got school tomorrow. There’s a purity here that will be lost as the years and albums, and finally the break-up, pass by. Yet A Hard Day’s Night freezes The Beatles in time before they not only followed trends, they created them too,
Okay, I’ll admit it, the music is brilliant too. But I’m still pissed about Doctor Robert.
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By Kevin Boyle
Header Image: Roger Ebert