Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pop and the Beatles

Viewed carefully, the remastered 1964 Beatles movie, "A Hard Day's Night," reveals how an obscure Liverpool rock group was able to initiate massive cultural change.

The first thing Beatles' manager Brian Epstein did right with the film project was to not settle for the generic Elvis-movie route. Selected as director was the most cutting-edge talent to be found, Richard Lester. As a result, the editing was revolutionary, with unsurpassed style.

Every aspect of the film fits with the image Epstein wanted to present. From a business standpoint, perfect branding.

Note the pop art poster images of the Beatles behind the band as they play on stage. Note the witty interview excerpts. Note how even the George Harrison excursion into a fashion magazine office has a purpose. It says, subliminally, "These four guys are the height of fashion. They're the new arbiters of taste."

What director Lester did above all was keep the four young men in motion. Dynamic, not static. From the famous first chord of the title song, the Beatles are seen running and tumbling across the landscape. Their movement matches the hyperfast (for the time) editing.

All aspects of the presentation worked in harmony. That the young musicians could crank out catchy pop tunes on demand was the foundation of their success-- but without the look and style, their sense of newness, they'd have gone nowhere.

These are lessons which can be applied to a stagnant literary scene.