The Movie: 5 Out of 5 Stars
A Hard Day's Night is timeless. There are beautiful songs and the free spirit of the 1960s. Not only is it an interesting watch for Beatles Fans, but everyone as well. It shows how free-spirited someone can be. Along the way, the Beatles encounter disapproving adults and other authority figures, who prefer not to look and act to the free-spirited way of the time. The movie is truly a great, yet simple movie.
The Releases: MPI DVD vs Miramax DVD
A Hard Day's Night was not the movie with the highest budget. The sound was monaural originally, not stereo. It was also shot on Academy Ratio (close to full screen), not a Widescreen Ratio. It was meant to be a kind of artsy black and white movie. When, it was released, the soundtrack was very over-modulated. This was to make everything as loud as possible (maybe so people can hear over screaming fans in the movie theater). In other word, it was very distorted when first released in 1964.
In 1982, A Hard Day's Night was released once again in theaters. This time in Dolby Stereo. This was done by taking the stereo studio versions of the song and using them to replace the original ones in the mono soundtrack. It also used a prologue of pictures of the Beatles with "I'll Cry Instead" playing. MPI and Criterion had various releases of a Hard Day's Night on VHS, Laserdisc, and Betamax from 1984-1995. Most releases used a certain master, possibly a copy or slight variation from the Dolby Stereo Reissue Mix; however, the earliest ones used a bettered original mono mix. It was also restored in the 90s and shown in the AMC Film Festival with the original full screen ratio and a restored mono mix. The AMC version is considered by most to be the definitive version.
In the late 1990s, A Hard Day's Night was once again restored very thoroughly. The picture was restored and most cracks or specks in the film were repaired. The person who restored A Hard Day's Night wanted a better soundtrack. He deemed the original soundtrack unacceptable since it was over-modulated. He decided to use the Reissue Soundtrack. He restored it very well. However, since this used the stereo version of the songs rather than the soundtrack, when George knocked over an amplifier during "If I Fell," no thud was heard. It included the 1982 Reissue Prologue and had a full screen ratio. This restoration was released as the MPI DVD. The release included some trailers and the Running, Jumping, and Standing Still Film.
A Hard Day's Night was once again restored in the new millennium. This restoration used a copy of the original over-modulated soundtracks, now the thud could be heard when George knocks over the amplifier since it is the original soundtrack. During the restoration, the already over-modulated soundtrack was turned into some fake hollow 5.1 surround sound. Notice that there is no outro instruments at the end of "A Hard Day's Night" when the train is moving away like in the MPI Release. You just hear the crowd's commotion rather than the rather nice outro fading out slowly over it in the MPI release. The picture was restored very thoroughly and is the best quality. Due to widescreen becoming popular, the picture was reframed into widescreen, cutting off a lot of the top and bottom plus exposing some unnecessary picture on the sides. This is probably not what Richard Lester, the director, intended. This was the master used for the Miramax DVD. The release contained some very pointless interviews with people who are NOT the Beatles.