One major phenomenon in the sixties: The Beatles. The band was popularized and had amassed a particularly large fan base. Their popularity would only be heightened as time went on, and largely due to a multi-picture deal the band had. A Hard Day’s Night (1964) from director Richard Lester opens with fans charging the band, an act in which real fans participated in. It was shot on location and featured many sequences of improvisation, and as a result is literally dripping with authenticity. These stars that everyone had come to know are humanized and given more than an ounce of freedom to express their quirky qualities.
Fluid, hand-held camera work by Gilbert Taylor forces the viewer into the position of the band members. The claustrophobia of a brigade of fans always encroaching upon their life is tiresome, and nonetheless frightening. It’s enhanced during the sequences on the train and again in the hotel, where tight close-ups are favored for a more detailed, and intimate, focus on the lives of rock stars. Each member receives around the same screen time, too. Although, nothing can compare to when the group must travel by car.
These smaller moments encompass a very present theme throughout: humanity. The film touches upon a generational discourse that seems to always be occurring, between the grandfather and the group. There’s a running gag in which various people tell the grandfather that he looks “clean.” And the text explores the generational gap even more by appearance; what are the younger people wearing? What is their haircut like? How about their attitude towards culture in general?
This grounded approach is juxtaposed by the magic involved, however, specifically, in instances where people disappear into bathtubs and wardrobes. Or simply fall into holes. Taylor utilizes a multitude of zooms to capture certain comedic moments, which occur often. During the final performance filmic techniques like whips and pans are implemented along with rapid intercuts to imply the intensity in the room and of The Beatles and their fan base.
Perhaps the titular moment, though, in A Hard Day’s Night happens when Ringo ventures out on his own. He eventually stumbles upon children who do not recognize him. For one moment, he isn’t bombarded with questions or shallow praise and the viewer can see the humanity both through his eyes, but in the dialogue between the boy and him. The film upholds the ideology that it’s okay to be a kid and to have those childish qualities through both the narrative, and the frame itself.