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A Hard Day's Night

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • High praise for A Hard Day's Night's 4K release, noting its quality and wide appeal. Both reviews highly recommend it.

    A Hard Day's Night 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Richard Lester's film, after a 4K restoration and HDR grade, impresses in native 4K with notable visual enhancements, reflecting meticulous cinematography and adaptive presentation ratios.

  • Audio
  • This Blu-ray features English LPCM Mono and Stereo, DTS-HD 5.1 audio tracks, and optional English SDH subtitles, highlighting the meticulous restoration and versatile auditory experience, with a nod to mono purists and Giles Martin's expansive remixes.

  • Extra
  • The set features rich extras including commentaries, documentaries, and interviews that delve into 'A Hard Day's Night,' its music, making, and legacy, backed by a detailed booklet.

  • Movie
  • Critically acclaimed 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) by Richard Lester, celebrated for its energetic pseudo-documentary style akin to Godard's, arrives in a 4K Blu-ray edition by Criterion, loaded with extensive extras and boasting audio options catering to purists and modern audiences alike.

    Video: 90

    The Criterion Collection's release of "A Hard Day's Night" on 4K UHD Blu-ray is a cinematic treat, presenting Richard Lester's groundbreaking film in its highest fidelity yet. With Gilbert Taylor's innovative cinematography originally captured on 35mm film using Arriflex 35 IIB cameras, the transition to 4K honors the film's visual legacy. The original camera negative was meticulously scanned at 4K resolution, though it's important to note that due to the loss of two reels, fine grain master positives were substituted for those segments. This restoration process, identical to the one utilized for Criterion's 2014 Blu-ray release, now unfolds in its native resolution, offering an enhanced viewing experience with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and adheres to Lester's preferred exhibition ratio of 1.75:1.

    Visually, the film benefits significantly from its 4K treatment, especially when viewed with Dolby Vision enabled. While the 1080p Blu-ray release remains impressive, the jump to 4K provides a noticeable enhancement in clarity, depth, and sharpness across various scenes. Interior sequences, such as those shot aboard the train with tight spherical lenses, now reveal finer details and a more convincing dynamic range. Daylight scenes display a superb balance between grays and whites, with highlights and darker areas achieving an improved level of nuance. This upgrade in visual quality is particularly appreciable on larger screens or when projected, where the nuances in delineation and image stability become distinctly evident. However, contrary to expectations, the upgrade to 4K does not excessively amplify the film grain, instead maintaining a pleasingly authentic texture that respects the original shooting medium.

    It's worth acknowledging that while the 4K UHD disc itself is region-free, facilitating a broader accessibility, the accompanying Blu-ray disc with bonus features is locked to Region-A. This Criterion release, therefore, stands as a testament not only to the enduring appeal of "A Hard Day's Night" but also to the meticulous care and technology employed in preserving its cinematic heritage for both current aficionados and future generations to enjoy in unparalleled quality.

    Audio: 90

    The audio presentation of the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "A Hard Day's Night" offers a compelling auditory experience for fans and audiophiles alike, featuring three audio tracks: English LPCM 2.0 (Mono), English LPCM 2.0 (Stereo), and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, along with optional English SDH subtitles for accessibility. Though the audio restoration work is not new, each track retains its excellence, notably the Mono track, which delivers an authentic listening experience reflecting the era of the film's original release. For those with upgraded audio equipment, the Mono track continues to impress, while the Stereo and 5.1 options offer a broader soundstage that significantly enhances the live performance segments, inviting viewers to select their preference based on their audio setup and fidelity tastes.

    Purists may gravitate towards the Mono track, often considered more genuine due to its direct lineage from the film's original release period. However, this conventional preference is challenged by the meticulous remixing efforts of Giles Martin, who has adeptly expanded the Mono recordings into immersive Stereo and 5.1 mixes without compromising the original's essence. Martin's expertise, honed by his work on other Beatles' iconic albums, underscores the merit in experiencing the film's audio in its newly mixed forms. His approach not only respects but revitalizes the original recordings, offering a fresh auditory perspective that complements the visual restoration of this classic film.

    Preferring one audio track over another ultimately boils down to individual taste and the specificities of one's sound system. The Mono track remains a testament to the original production's charm and historical significance, while the Stereo and 5.1 mixes by Giles Martin represent a sophisticated enhancement that broadens the soundscape, enriching viewers' sensory engagement with "A Hard Day's Night." Each option promises a distinct yet faithful auditory journey through this cinematic snapshot of Beatles' history, underscoring the importance of choice in optimizing one's viewing experience.

    Extra: 89

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray extras for "A Hard Day's Night" present a wealth of behind-the-scenes content and critical insight, making it a must-have for Beatles aficionados and cinema enthusiasts alike. Central to the collection is an audio commentary from 2002, marshaled by producer Martin Lewis, featuring a mix of cast and crew such as John Junkin, David Janson, Jeremy Lloyd, and others, offering multifaceted perspectives on the film's creation. Highlights include the "In Their Own Voices" featurette, pairing 1964 Beatles interviews with making-of footage and photos, and the meticulous "Anatomy of a Style," dissecting the innovative editing and framing of the film's musical sequences. Additionally, the "You Can't Do That: The Making of A Hard Day's Night" documentary provides an engaging look at the film's production through archival interviews and an outtake performance. Equally compelling are the "Things They Said Today" documentary, detailing the film's production history, and interviews with Richard Lester in "Picturewise," alongside "The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day's Night," offering insights into the band's unprecedented impact on music and culture. The collection is rounded out by two theatrical trailers and a comprehensive booklet filled with essays, interviews, and technical details, encapsulating the enduring legacy and pioneering spirit of "A Hard Day's Night."

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary: Audio commentary featuring a diverse mix of cast and crew members.
    • Trailers: Includes both the 2000 and 2014 re-release trailers.
    • Anatomy of a Style: A detailed analysis of the film's musical sequences.
    • In Their Own Voices: Behind-the-scenes footage paired with audio interviews from The Beatles.
    • You Can't Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night: A documentary including archival interviews and an outtake performance.
    • Things They Said Today: A documentary focusing on the film’s production history.
    • The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film: Richard Lester's Oscar-nominated short film.
    • Picturewise: A video essay on Richard Lester’s directing style.
    • The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day's Night: An interview with Mark Lewisohn discussing The Beatles' career.
    • Booklet: An 80-page booklet featuring essays, interviews, and technical information.

    Movie: 85

    Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night" is presented on 4K UHD Blu-ray by Criterion, delivering an audiovisual feast that adeptly balances the film's historical significance with state-of-the-art remastering techniques. Capturing the Beatles’ unprecedented energy and the burgeoning youth culture of the 1960s, the film is a pivotal pseudo-documentary that stands out for its raw energy and innovative filmmaking style, echoing the disruptive spirit seen in Jean-Luc Godard’s early works. From the bustling streets of Liverpool to the frantic pace of London, where George, John, Paul, and Ringo navigate fame, adoring fans, and the chaos of their schedules, Lester’s camera intimately captures the whirlwind of their lives with a verisimilitude that often blurs the line between fiction and reality.

    The narrative structure, deliberately loose and episodic, facilitates an immersive experience that showcases the Beatles' music and personalities in a near-authentic light. The seamless blend of behind-the-scenes footage with lively musical numbers creates a mockumentary style that prefigures later musical films. The film's editing and framing accentuate this energy, making the viewer feel part of the Beatles' world, henceforth providing an early glimpse into music video aesthetics that would later dominate MTV. The soundtrack is another high point, featuring iconic tracks such as "Can't Buy Me Love" and "And I Love Her," reinforcing the Beatles' groundbreaking impact on music and culture.

    Technology-wise, Criterion's release leaves no stone unturned, offering audio options covering Dual Mono, Stereo, and a newly created 5.1 surround soundtrack, courtesy of Apple Records. This ensures that both purists and enthusiasts seeking an immersive experience are satisfied. Additionally, the transfer preserves the granular quality of the original film while enhancing clarity and contrast for 4K viewing. With supplemental features galore, including documentaries and commentaries that provide rich context to the film's production and its cultural legacy, this release is comprehensive. However, it’s worth noting the replacement program for the initial pressing errors, demonstrating Criterion's commitment to quality. Overall, this release not only pays homage to "A Hard Day's Night" as a seminal work in film and music history but also sets a benchmark for how classic films should be preserved and experienced in the modern era.

    Total: 90

    The 4K UHD Blu-Ray release of "A Hard Day's Night" is a monumental event for both cinephiles and enthusiasts of this iconic film. This release showcases the admirable efforts taken to preserve and enhance the visual and auditory essence of Richard Lester's masterpiece. The 4K restoration process indeed breathes new life into the movie, presenting it in a quality that is not only unprecedented but also deeply enriching for the viewing experience. Those equipped with large TVs and projectors will find themselves particularly rewarded, as the improvements are most noticeable in such setups. However, even those with more modest home cinema systems will appreciate the enhanced clarity and depth this version brings to the fore. It is important to note for collectors outside North America, while the 4K Blu-ray disc is universally playable, the accompanying Blu-Ray disc is restricted to Region-A.

    The Criterion Collection's release of "A Hard Day’s Night" in 4K UHD underscores not just a technical upgrade, but a rejuvenation of the film's spirit and energy. The joy and whimsy that have made the film a longstanding favorite are amplified in this format, appealing to loyal fans and potentially capturing the hearts of new ones. Its technical achievements aside, the release serves as a poignant reminder of the film's enduring appeal, ensuring that its legacy persists through yet another generation of viewers. The film’s vitality and infectious charm are now more accessible than ever, promising an unparalleled viewing experience that honors its original spirit while leveraging contemporary technological advancements.

    In conclusion, this 4K UHD release of "A Hard Day's Night" by The Criterion Collection is not just a significant achievement in film restoration; it is a heartfelt homage to an ageless classic. The upgrade offers tangible benefits in terms of picture and sound quality, enhancing the overall enjoyment without compromising the nostalgic essence that fans cherish. Given its exceptional presentation and the care taken in its execution, this release comes highly recommended for both long-time admirers of the Beatles’ cinematic venture and newcomers eager to experience the film at its technical best. Whether for historical appreciation or sheer entertainment value, this version stands as a definitive edition of a musical and cinematic landmark.