A most enjoyable view
David Carrejo | El Paso, TX | 02/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Much has been written and seen about the Beatles landing in America. After winning many fans over worldwide prior to February of 1964, the Beatles were ready to conquer the U.S. although they were not quite prepared for the overwhelming response they received once they arrived. Originally intended for a UK audience, the Maysles brothers' documentary follows the Beatles from the very moment they landed at JFK airport until they departed for home some two weeks later. Included are highlights from the Beatles' performances on the Ed Sullivan Show as well as portions of their first American concert at the Washington Coliseum. Behind the scenes footage from the hotel rooms, the Peppermint Lounge (for a night on the town), press photo shoots, and on the train to (and from) Washington, D.C. give an idea of how amazingly close the Maysles brothers were to the center of it all. Their landmark style of creating documentaries provides an amazing "fly on the wall" perspective. There is no narration and there are no formal interviews. The film lets the event speak for itself as it captures the action quite naturally and spontaneously. Nothing is staged and the film provides a most intimate look at the Beatles' interaction with each other as well as with the excitement of Beatlemania. For those of us born too late to witness and experience the mania, this is our link to the past and a glimpse at the beginning of a very important revolution in pop music and culture.The re-release of this noteworthy documentary provides a noticeable improvement over the original version. There is now an audio commentary by Albert Maysles. Furthermore, there is a 51-minute interview with him which includes his presentation of a handful of outtakes from the original film. One notable highlight of the personal interview includes Maysles' discussion of how his camera was accidentally turned on at the Washington Coliseum concert. Without a second thought, he propped it up on his shoulder (without security seeing him). His brief footage provides a very rare view of how a Beatle fan saw and "heard" the Beatles play. It's very clear from the footage that fans interested in listening to the show simply could not do so. Other intriguing highlights include recorded comments from teenagers and adults on the street and at JFK airport.The drawbacks to be noted about this DVD are the result of other previous DVD releases including the Ed Sullivan Presents the Beatles DVD set and The Beatles Anthology. The Sullivan set contains ALL of the shows in their entirety while this release only includes portions of shows. The Anthology set contains a good segment of the Coliseum concert taken from an absolutely pristine film print and not the more common well-worn copy. This release still contains the worn footage. It would have been nice to see a bonus feature containing the complete Coliseum concert from the master print. However, this DVD is the original documentary and the integrity is maintained throughout. It's important to note that the Maysles brothers did not have permission to film in either the CBS studios for the Sullivan shows or in the Washington Coliseum. (One other highlight on the extra footage is Paul McCartney trying to come to the brothers' aid when security blocked them from the CBS studio for the first show.) A color booklet is included with a handful of photos and quotes from each of the Beatles; however, perhaps Apple could have designed a better booklet to include reprints of news articles and reviews from 1964, transcripts of Beatle interviews, and, perhaps, a reprint of the diary of events from Mark Lewishon's Beatles Chronicle.This is definitely a treat for Beatle fans and a great example of how to produce a quality documentary. I also recommend the Maysles brothers' production, Gimme Shelter, where they capture the exciting and controversial events surrounding the Rolling Stones 1969 tour, including the tragedy at Altamont."
An absolutely amazing document!
firstname.lastname@example.org | 01/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! Is this really a documentary? Were the Beatles really that witty, charming and off the cuff? The answer to both questions is yes! Actually, this shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hard Day's Night was really very close to the real thing: A Day In the Life of the Beatles in early '64. However, this documentary takes nothing away from a Hard Day's Night. They are both absolutely brilliant on their own terms. Lester does things in the movie that transcend what a documentary can do (the fabulous escape "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence, for one of many). However, you don't need to be a Beatle fan to appreciate this great documentary. Unless you have no interest in this very interesting time in history, you will find this extremely...well... ...interesting. How lucky we are to have this unique event so brilliantly preserved for posterity. The Maysles brothers were visionaries! If you have any interest in why the '60s were such a remarkable decade,don't miss seeing this! Holds up very well to repeated viewings."
The "Real" Hard Day's Night
Paul Schneider | Cary, IL United States | 04/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been born in 1962, I wasn't able to witness the hysteria that surrounded the Beatles' 1st trip to America; until now. This video puts you right in the middle of everything they experienced (well, almost) on their February, 1964 trip. Their arrival, and press conference, at Idlewild Airport, taxi rides, photo shoots, after hours parties and all 3 Ed Sullivan Show appearances in their entirety. Also included are 3 songs from the Washington Coliseum concert. After watching this video, it's easy to understand why Americans were captivated by these guys. It's also very apparent why the Beatles could only tolerate this "mania" for 2 more years. I wish I could have experienced it firsthand."
The Beatles had the core issues mastered
Paul Schneider | 11/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most valuable thing that the Beatles had was their extraordinary songwriting ability.|Oh, yes, they had many other great cards to play, but their songwriting was their ace of spades. To use a sports analogy, their songwriting ability was their Babe Ruth or Wayne Gretzky in their lineup of formidable talents.This video shows this. It shows the Beatles showcasing songs that collectively run circles around their competitors.Yes, occassionally a group or artist will come out with a song that can hang with the calibre of those of the early Beatles, but NO ONE or NO GROUP has had an output of such relentless quality in such a condensed time frame.This isn't recognized enough, in my opinion.But, had these magnificent sonic blueprints that the early Beatles created not been properly handled, the Beatles' impact would have been far less. We can all be thankful that the songs were delivered with infectious joy and cheekiness and feeling. We can count ourselves very lucky that the Beatles had great vocal gifts, especilly for harmonizing. We can consider ourselves fortunate that Brian Epstein "cleaned them up" for public viewing (in matching suits, and so forth). We can thank ourselves that they weren't "neat freaks" about letting a little rawness into their musical execution. There are untold numbers of talented band musicians with superb execution, but where has that gotten them? Up to a point, reasonably crisp execution is necessary; but beyond that, it runs the grave risk of impeding the flow of more important things, such as joie de vivre. The Beatles were not at all guilty of blocking the flow of joy, of generativeness.What the Beatles were "guilty" of was, instead: 1) playing WELL WRITTEN SONGS (that this is so very crucial to great success seems to escape so many artists and bands); and, 2) exhibiting joy and buoyancy (who is going to consider the nihilistic output of rappers and punkers with nostalgia and misty-eyed remembrance 40 years from now? Not many, I can assure you. History does not long applaud and laud such "energies." Nobody long cherishes negativity).
I am so very pleased that this video exists to show future genrations that the pinnacle of musical output is not trash-talking or in-your-face decibels. It is instead quality musical craftsmanship and joy that hits the mark for the long haul. (It is great and most heartening, though not AT ALL unexpected that, forty years later, the Beatles CD "1" topped the charts. Is a similar thing going to happen with a rapper or a punk musician or Madonna or Nirvana? Bloody unlikely. They simply have not delivered the goods for the ages as the Beatles have.)For committing the lovely "crimes" of bringing top quality songwriting and bouyant joy to the stage and to our ears, long live the Beatles!--and they shall long live, for the reasons discussed above."