Thursday, January 8, 2009

Beatles Films

The following films are movies in which the Beatles starred, as well as movies made by or about individual band members.

A Hard Day's Night is considered to be an excellent movie by most directors and film critics, such as Roger Ebert, who uses the film in his film clsses. The film sought to portray, within limits, an average day of the Beatles as they travel, rehearse, and perform.

Help is considered to be less successful, both by the Beatles themselves and film critics. With a bigger budget than the first, Help's plot is compromised, according to the Beatles and others, by the band's requests to "write in" locations they wished to visit, such as the Bahamas or the Alps. The movie's plot, therefore, seems secondary to the locations, although this has never stopped fans' enjoyment of the film as the Beatles act like Beatles.

Let It Be essentially chronicles the break-up of the band but features many behind-the-scenes shots, rehearsals, and the Beatles--often feuding--in the studio. A theatrical release, the movie is not available from Apple Corps or media stores that sell DVDs, although the DVD may be found on various websites. Many have theorized that Apple, perhaps influenced heavily by McCartney, do not wish the band's image tarnished by exposing a younger generation of new fans to the arguments of the Beatles when not quite on their best behavior. Others point out that the band's history is already known and that withholding the movie is pointless.

Magical Mystery Tour is probably the most criticized of all Beatles films. It was seen in black and white in Great Britain, and newspaper critics panned the film the day after it was aired. It never aired in the United States as planned, although it was shown years later on ABC (it was first seen in the U.S. at film festivals and underground campus film festivals). Paul McCartney handled most of the film's direction by default--the film and album had been his idea--and the resulting montage of surrealism, narration, and songs against the backdrop of a motorcoach tourist trip (known as a charabanc in England) still elicits different reactions from fans to this day.

Yellow Submarine was an animated feature film released in 1968 in which the Beatles (as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band) help the citizens of Pepperland fight the evil Blue Meanies. While the psychedelic artistic style is often attributed to Peter Max, the film's art editor was Heinz Edelman. Max had nothing to do with the project according to most sources.

The Beatles Anthology was a documentary series aired by ABC television in November of 1995. It used interviews and archival footage to allow the Beatles to relate their history in their own words.

A more in-depth look at each film can be found at Beatles Films: Analysis and Detail (under construction).

A Hard Day's Night
Let It Be
Yellow Submarine
Magical Mystery Tour
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
How I Won the War
Give My Regards to Broad Street
Across the Universe
Concert for Bangladesh
The U.S. vs. John Lennon
Inside John Lennon

For more detailed information about the films, consult the following pages on this site:

A Hard Day's Night
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles Anthology

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