Monday, December 9, 2013

A Hard Day's Night (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (2009)

A Hard Day's NightHard to believe that Miramax Entertainment could mess up this DVD so horribly. An anniversary release of one of the most important films of the 20th century no less. Shame on them.

There are a lot of raves here about the fact that the film is being presented "letterboxed" for the first time. Actually, it's just the first time the top and bottom of the picture have been chopped off for no reason! "A Hard Day's Night" was filmed in Academy standard 1.37:1. Slightly wider than your average TV tube, but not anything close to the 1.66:1 chop job on the new DVD. Full-frame would have been the proper presentation.

As for the audio...they DID clean up the dialog portions of the movie, so for perhaps the first time EVER, you can actually HEAR what everyone is saying and it no longer sounds like they are speaking into an Edison cylinder recorder.

But oh, the music. They replaced the original mono soundtrack with the standard mono AHDN CD to replace the overmodulated music on the original film. Never mind that there were a couple of different mixes in there that they should have left alone ("Tell Me Why", "And I Love Her", "If I Fell") BUT...they went and added microdelay and phasing to create some kind of a half-assed 5.1 mix that through a standard stereo or mono downmixed output makes the audio sound phase-y and hollow. This is worse than the original mono mix (available on the original Beta & VHS release from 1982 or the print aired on AMC several years ago) and the fact that the standard mono mix was NOT made available as alternate audio on the disc (as it was on the "Yellow Submarine" DVD) is an oversight punishable by public stoning.

As for all the bonus material...not ONE interview with an actual Beatle? Not even McCartney? The closest we get is George Martin?

The person behind this mess is none other than Martin Lewis, self-proclaimed Beatle "expert" and all around media whore. Lewis' involvement explains why no-one at Apple would have anything to do with the project. With some two-hours of useless interviews as "bonus" material, here's what you DON'T get:

The original theatrical trailers

The reissue theatrical trailers

The original theatrical "making-of" featurette

The surviving outtake footage ("You Can't Do That") [which, as a sidenote was left off the MPI DVD, making having the VHS & Laserdisc necessary]

The aforementioned MPI documentary DVD

Any surviving still photos of the other missing sequences

Running commentary on an alternate audio track

The promised (but not included) Richard Lester's "Running Jumping Standing Still Movie"

Anything of any relevance.

What makes this all the worse is that the image looks terrific. However, it's been so horribly trashed that the only proper place for this DVD is the trash can or as a trade in at the used DVD store.

Anyone who owns the original MPI DVD should hold on to it and save thier tewnty bucks.

Thanks to my friend Steve for enlightening me on this...

When I finally decided to consider replacing my old MPI VHS tape copy of A Hard Day's Night (MP 1064) with the currently available 2 DVD set, I read the reviews on this listing to see if it was really worth re-buying something I've only occasionally watched over the last twenty or so years. It's not that I dislike the movie far from it It's just that this is one of those movies I can only watch once in a while with interest. Which only means; it's dated, although in the best possible way. But I love it, and having it as a VHS cassette rotting on my shelf made no sense, so I looked into the DVD.

I knew this was one of the first DVDs released and I've heard some which sound pretty bad, generally due to excessive echo from a careless transfer. And after reading the reviews here, I was expecting the music to be trash. (I took the precaution of making a digital recording of the soundtrack of the tape.) Also screen-cropping was an issue. I prefer widescreen when I can get it, but if someone actually cut part of the image off, which is what at least one reviewer seemed to be saying, that's catastrophic. Needless to say, I did approach this DVD with extreme caution.

But I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. As for the sound, my dread turned to relief when I heard that the Beatles' music on this DVD sounds as clean and pure as I could hope, with my only beef being that it is rendered in mono, rather than the "hi-fi" stereo of the VHS. But strangely, I found that in this case, mono works better. Instead of shifting from mono dialogue to stereo music, the DVD is completely mono, which makes for a more consistent viewing experience. For the performance section at the end, I believe a bit more echo was added to make it sound more "live." But as it's all studio tracks anyway, the alteration is somewhat justified and actually does add to the illusion you're listening to the Beatles perform, rather than lip-sync.

On the cropping; This DVD is in widescreen, which admittedly does make the image smaller and harder to see on the small screen. So why would anyone crop a movie to make it appear widescreen when it'd be better full? Profit? (So they could sell us another copy later on.) Possibly, but for some reason in this instance, I doubted it. What I did to check was pick an object in the movie close enough to the top of the full screen video that if it were cropped, would certainly not show up on the wide. I picked the helicopter propeller blades near the end of the movie, when you can see their top, before it takes off. I found that they were not cropped off on the DVD, although I'll grant it may be that they were closer to the top of the screen. But this may appear so due to the reduced size of the picture. In any case, if there is any cropping, it's not obtrusive.

So why all the carping? I'm going to guess because it's not the way you remember it. Take the fans' word for it, but for my money, the fact that I can actually hear what everyone's saying, plus the interviews, makes the DVD preferable.

Buy A Hard Day's Night (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (2009) Now

Being a big Beatle fan, and a big fan of this movie, I highly anticipated the arrival of this title on DVD. The sound on this DVD is bad, there is absolutely no dynamic range. The volume level seems to hover at the same level through out the film, there is no difference in volume between the scenes when there is a quiet conversation and the scenes where the band is playing. I also own the title on laserdisc and let me tell you, the laserdisc has at least 30 db of dynamic range. While watching this film on laserdisc, you can adjust the level of playback so that the scenes where there is conversation is a comfortable 75 db, and when the band plays it jumps up to an ear thumping 105 db or more. This DVD lacks ooph, the band sounds like their playing in a box. This film deserves a better sound treatment, I highly recommend boycotting the DVD and lets wait till they release it in it's proper state.

Read Best Reviews of A Hard Day's Night (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (2009) Here

I grew up with The Beatles and they remain my all time favorite group, the model for almost all that was to come for the next 15 years or so. I was very excited to learn 'A Hard Days Night' was being released on Blu Ray and had high hopes for a major improvement in both picture and sound quality.

I will assume the reader has SEEN this movie so instead of reviewing the film I will instead give my impressions of the Blu Ray release.

'A Hard Days Night' is presented in glorious black and white with a 1.66 aspect ratio that is almost the original aspect ratio. In my experience every home released version of this movie has had a slightly different cropping job done to it, some better than others. The framing for this Blu Ray release looks to me the same as the Miramax DVD version which I assume the master was sourced from. On my display I choose not to use over-scan and thus it almost fills the entire 16:9 screen with a small amount of top and bottom pillaring. Unfortunately since the original negatives were not sourced and rescanned/remastered we are only allowed a 1080i presentation which may cause some unwanted combing effects if your display and/or player can not properly de-interlaced the video. Most people won't notice anything in that regard but I thought I would mention it for the picky out there, myself included.

How does the picture stack up against the latest Miramax DVD or even the fabled MPI DVD? Bottom line is, you DO get more detail. While the contrast levels are just a bit washed out compared to the MPI DVD version, the overall picture quality is a fair step up from ANY previous home video release. It is a sad thing to say, but it COULD have been much much better. Even just using the same exact film elements and rescanning at 2 or 4k with 1080p output resolution and a few contrast/brightness tweaks would have REALLY made this film pop big time. Mind you, it is no where near to "poor quality" in appearance. From time to time you get an almost 3D pop, but just barely and then ti is gone and you have been teased, seeing what COULD have been with this release and wasn't. Obviously they have taken the easy cheap way out here by using the existing production master which was never progressive in nature to begin with. Oh well, it is still much better than any existing home video product and I am glad to own it.

What about the sound quality? Many are raving about it. It is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio so what could go wrong...right? For the most part, not much. Dialogue is crisp and as clean as you will ever get from this movie, which was done quickly and 'on the cheap' back in 1964 when The Beatles were running their mop tops off and had very little time for extra takes or for much ADR dubbing after the fact.

Most of the music sounds better than it EVER has and that is the main sell point for me. Presented in the highest fidelity available for now, theses tunes rock. Too bad we are not given a soundtrack only option to play just the tunes without the screaming and applause that is dubbed on top of a lot of it.

My only real complaint is that there is a very audible and annoying 'pumping' going on during "Can't Buy Me Love" which is obviously an error made at some point during the production of this Blu Ray release and caused by massive overuse of a stereo compressor. None of my other copies of this film have this, and of course it doesn't exist on the studio recordings either. Yes the Beatles used compression in the studio, but this song is PUMPING so badly that it spoiled that part of the movie for me. Again, unless you know what you are hearing it probably won't bother most people, but for those of us who do know, it will drive you up the wall. All the other songs sound fine. Some will notice they are slower and slightly lower in pitch, this being due to a production quirk that required an adjustment in filming speed so the Pal video monitors in the TV Studio sequences wouldn't show scan lines. Basically unless somebody fixes the audio digitally for pitch and speed in a future re-release, we will always have to live with this little unfortunate artifact.

As for extras, most all the extras from the Miramax release are ported over to this Blu ray release and I won't bother listing them all here. It's a nice slelection, but you most likely have them already if you are a fan of this film.

'A Hard Days Night' is a low budget exploitation film created solely by United Artists to extract a soundtrack album. It is also a true classic and a wonderful slice of the 1960's , attempting to portray a 'day in the life' of The Beatles. It is amazing how well the film still holds up all these years later. I am still hoping there will be an official 'Apple' release of this film that will give us a remastered 1080p picture and a proper soundtrack mix for the music, but for now this is the best there is and well worth owning. Most viewers will find nothing wrong at all with this release with only the obsessive fans and videophiles/audiophiles among us complaining ever so slightly!

I love this movie and get a big charge out of it each and every time I watch it. When you see the crowds and audience going wild for The Beatles in this film, it ISN'T acting! YEAH YEAH YEAH !!!

Want A Hard Day's Night (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (2009) Discount?

If I was reviewing only the picture of this dvd, I would rate it 4 or 5 stars. However, since the sound is simply awful, I can't. The old MPI video took the orignal recordings of the songs and mixed them back into the movie. This approach sounded crisp and clear, and more importantly in true stereo (since The Beatles at the time were using 4-track tape). I'm guessing that Miramax was not allowed access to the masters. Consequently, their new so-called 5.1 "remix", had to be built around the original mono track of the film itself. In other words, any kind of stereoization had to be electronically faked. My initial reaction, when hearing this dvd for the first time, was that all the songs were rerecorded by other musicians. This is obviously not the case. But the recordings sound so differently from what is expected, I wasn't sure!

The picture is decent. But what about that reissue prologue and the deleted "You Can't Do That" performance? The dvd producers must have known how long fans have been waiting for this film to be released. They could have put more time and care into it. Oh well. Let's hope Miramax doesn't aquire the rights to HELP!

No comments:

Post a Comment