d. Richard Lester / 1965 / UK / 92 mins
Viewed on: Apple Corps / EMI DVD (Region 2)
While the attraction of A Hard Day’s Night is undeniable, Help! is – for me – right up there vying for the title of ‘Best Beatles Film Ever’. Unlike its predecessor, Help! has more of a narrative focus (as flimsy and ridiculous as it may be), but unlike Yellow Submarine – which was made wholly independent of the band, voices and all – it is still very Beatlesque. While Yellow Submarine was ‘The Beatles’ in charicature and dialled up to eleven, Help! and A Hard Day’s Night both maintained an easy charm that somehow feels closer to the four likeable lads we all imagine.
That said, there’s no denying that Help! is a very silly, very cheesy film, but its also great fun. Crammed full of the silly little witticisms, visual gags, puns and wordplays that made Beatles press conferences the stuff of legend, it makes you wonder just how much of the original script actually made it into the final film and how much was pure comic improvisation.
The version I watched came from the truly excellent deluxe boxset released by Apple/EMI in 2007. And although I can’t convey how good this digitally restored version is here, I can tell you that it is truly sublime. The images are crisp, the colours are superb and the sound is outstanding. (Anyone know how I can get a job at one of those DVD review mags?) Anyway, with any luck Help! will get a Blu-Ray release some time soon, but since this is Apple/EMI we’re talking about, best wait for the latest little Remasters/Rock Band hullabaloo to calm down. Personally, I would suggest marking your calendars for July 2015, which will mark the film’s 50th anniversary, but by then we’ll probably all just be able to download films straight to our brain. Maybe.