Tuesday, February 05, 2008

DVD Review - Help!

Being the good rock and roll dad I am, I have exposed my kids to the classics, as appropriate (KISS, Maiden, The Stones – you get it).

In terms of The Beatles, which is easy listening for everyone, they have heard most of the bands’ repertoire in the car and at home, and even own some of their own CDs.

We got Yellow Submarine when it was re-issued on DVD a few years ago, and a recent fave has been A Hard Day’s Night. I thought that the movie they would really enjoy was Help! But as hard as I tried, I could not find it on DVD. It was crazy to me that it hadn’t been released, but lo and behold, the only copies available were crappy bootlegs.

But now it has finally been reissued, all cleaned up and with a bonus disc. And it has become an instant favorite of the boys. They actually agree on wanting to watch it, which is a small miracle over here.

I had not seen the movie in many years. It used to run on TV about once a year when I was a kid (like The Wizard of Oz and Jesus Christ Superstar), but since then it’s been tough to find a showing.

The movie itself looks fantastic. They did a bang up job cleaning up the original, but more on that later.

The plot is actually pretty bogus. You can see how The Monkees’ managers based that whole band and television series on this movie. There are a couple of very Monty Python-esque moments too, years before MP was around.

The shots of the band miming the songs are pretty cool, though, and I remember the in-studio version of “You’re Gonna to Lose That Girl” from when I was a kid. It hasn’t lost its magic. It’s a great clip.

The bonus disc is a nice addition. You have interviews with the director, Dick Lester, and many of the actors, who fondly reminisce about making the film. No big surprises unless you didn’t already know that the band couldn’t remember its lines, never for a second thought they were real actors, and smoked truckloads of weed while making the movie.

The Beatles are still having a lot of fun in this period, obviously. They are a bit past the moptop stage and are about to get into the Rubber SoulRevolver era, which is my favorite. It’s fun to see them on the cusp of that.

The other great piece of bonus material is an overview of how the film was restored. The production company that did this work goes over the whole process, from getting the films in shape, digitizing them and then how they fixed all the imperfections without altering the intent of the director. It’s pretty fascinating. The work was painstaking and they’d only get perhaps a minute of the film restored in a whole days’ work.

But it was well worth it, as the movie really pops off the screen. It’s a fun flick, as well as a historical document of where the Beatles were at in 1965.

Video clip of "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" from Help!


VoxMoose said...

Any word (e.g. in the special features, on the street, etc.) why it took them so long to release it on DVD?

Isorski said...

Yeah - I guess Apple had to negotiate the rights from the movie company who originally put it out. United Artists, Columbia, whoever. And it took that long.