Today’s Prayer Focus

A Hard Day's Night

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
Musical Drama
Year of Release:
1964 / Re-released: 1999
Alternate Cover Graphic Cover Graphic from A Hard Day's Night

When I first saw this film as a teen, I loved every minute of it (except for the minutes I didn’t see but only listened to the music of because I was busy with my date). Now as a Christian for 30 years, having been converted from a life of sex, drugs, Eastern mysticism and revolutionary politics (which was my own responsibility, but was taught to me by the Beatles and their counterculture), I agree with what my parents were saying back in 1964—the Beatles’ music, their lifestyle and beliefs, and the mindless worship they received from their fans, were one of the greatest disasters that ever hit the Western world.

When the Beatles and British-style Rock first came to the U.S., everyone was caught off-guard. Parents knew something was wrong but had a hard time saying exactly what. For several months, the Beatles sold two-thirds of all singles and albums in the country and held the top four or five spots on the hit charts. This film can’t be understood apart from the Beatlemania phenomenon, which it accurately portrays.

There is no plot in the usual sense, just a collage of two “typical” days in the lives of the Beatles as they get ready for a concert. Several characters including Paul’s grandfather (who reads girlie magazines) and the Beatles’ managers are fictional; Brian Epstein, Robert Stigwood and other real life behind-the-scenes personnel are not seen. Slapstick, sight gags and silly situations hold this film together in between the musical sequences, but its primary purpose was to give Beatlemania a shot in the arm and to promote a new album. Why the 1999 re-release? Probably a combination of money and social change, just like always.

Some of the songs are well-written in a technical sense (intricately chorded and harmonized), and the sexual references are somewhat obscure. By 1967, much of the Beatles’ newer music had become a case-study in sex, drugs and revolution, and was electronically engineered to simulate a drug trip in the listener. Those with Christian wisdom had recognized the danger long before that stage was reached. Even MAD Magazine, in a piece on the Ten Commandments, used a photo of a Beatles concert to illustrate “Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me.” I hope today’s parents still have that discernment, both for themselves and for their children.

Viewer Comments
Positive—This Beatles movie is pretty good. It doesn’t seem to have much of a plot and is mostly an art/music film but I still think it is great! Following around the Beatles on a fake concert tour was a great idea. There is none of George Harrison’s mysticism in the film (mysticism is rampant in “Yellow Submarine”). Some of John Lennon’s drug humor does seep in. (i.e.-sniffing the Coke bottle on the train) A lot of symbolism is also used—in a positive way. The film, being filmed in black-and-white shows the (early) Beatles as the last clean-cut band without a prison record. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
Sherwood Vaillancourt, age 16
Positive—I would like to offer another viewpoint as compared to one already posted on this page. I believe that AHDN is, overall, a good family film. Most films today make their money selling sex and violence for the masses, but AHDN has no violence and either no profanity or too little to remember. And while the reviewer above believes that slapstick is all that holds the movie together between musical numbers, that simply is not the case.

The dialogue may be hard to understand through the English accents, but that is what closed captioning is for. (Trust me, I think closed captioning is one of the best things ever invented.) This film has to be one of the funniest movies I have ever seen because the jokes rely on wit rather than being obscene or immature like the “American Pie” type films that teenagers watch now. As for believing that the movie promotes hero worship, I have to disagree. Much of what the movie is about is making fun of that type of thing.

Even the Beatles got tired of people thinking they were more than “just four guys who made it very very big, that’s all.” I believe that this movie is quite funny and extremely mild compared to movies that are thrown at kids today. I’d be more worried about cartoons on television than about this movie. AHDN was very well-made and the quality far surpasses about 90% of the movies that are in the theatres now. My Ratings: [4/3½]
Lyla Durham, age 20
Positive—This is one of the best rock n’ roll films ever made. It plays like a documentary, focusing on a “typical” hectic day in the life of the Fab Four. The soundtrack, comprised of early songs from the group, is excellent. For anyone who wasn’t born or old enough in 1964 to know how much of an impact on music the Beatles had, this is a pleasant history lesson… My Ratings: [5/4½]
Hillari Hunter, age 37