There’s something about watching the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night that dispels anxiety, negativity, or just plain bad moods. In this the third year of our Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library, I don’t know when I’ve seen a more relaxed group, folks that were clearly enjoying themselves in this wonderful time capsule.
Many in the audience clearly remembered Beatlemania as it happened, while the teenagers in attendance marveled at what they were seeing. After the film, one young man commented, “We don’t have anything like this now!” A much older attendee commented that the Beatles have been such an important part of her life that she’s joined a Beatles society, toured the Beatles’ homes, and visited Liverpool where it all started. Everyone shared great stories, where they were when Beatlemania hit, watching them on The Ed Sullivan Show, buying their first Beatles record, and more.
Another woman spoke to how the Beatles helped her – and perhaps the whole country – in finding a source of hope after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But the most touching moment of the evening occurred when a woman approached Julia and me and said, “This was wonderful. I grew up in a Communist country and heard only snippets of Beatle music from tapes,” tapes that were covertly passed around and were probably illegal. She never heard a complete Beatles song until the mid-70s, never knew that there was such joy in the world.
Yet we also had a dissenting voice. A man (a regular attender of our programs) in his mid-60s commented, “I just don’t get it. I don’t see what the attraction was. I honestly don’t think they’re very good.” The audience sat in stunned silence. “Sir,” I said, “do you have protection to get from the library to your car tonight?” It got a laugh from the audience, but the guy clearly didn’t like movie or the Beatles. Yet this moment made me appreciate the fact that we want to hear all opinions at our programs, otherwise what’s the point?
You can tell a lot about your audience by watching their faces while the movies play. On most faces last night I saw absolute joy and longing. I think we tend to forget that the Beatles were not only great musicians, they were charming, witty, very quick, and impossible to ignore. We’ve really never seen anything like them since and probably never will. To watch A Hard Day’s Night is to place yourself in a moment when perhaps the world wasn’t perfect, but for 90 minutes, it was pretty close.
Photos: Movie Art, DVD Beaver